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Governing digital sex labour: privacy and the regulation of online erotic content creation

Grant number: 23/04422-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2023
Effective date (End): September 30, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Heloisa Buarque de Almeida
Grantee:Lorena Rúbia Pereira Caminhas
Supervisor: Thomas Poell
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Amsterdam (UvA), Netherlands  
Associated to the scholarship:20/02268-4 - Digital platforms in the Brazilian sex markets: restructuring and reorganization of the online sex and erotic trade, BP.PD

Abstract

This research addresses the governance model enforced by the Brazilian subscription-based erotic platform Privacy through its Terms of Service (ToS). Privacy is an OnlyFans-like platform founded in 2020, which provides an environment for the sales of erotic content produced by independent sex workers. In Brazil, Privacy is predominant in such markets since it surpassed OnlyFans in access and use in July 2022 (Pignati, 2022). Thus, the platform controls the national market for independent erotic content sales, being central to defining the rules and parameters for performing sex labour. The discussion revolves around governance by platforms, understood as a privatised mode of establishing standards and norms for the digital (Gillespie, 2017). Specifically, it tackles a labour platform, which manages more than use and content but labour and working conditions. Hence, the research goes into the governance scholarship discussing a private regulation for digital sex labour, an issue yet to be approached (Stegeman, 2021). The core research question is how Privacy governs and regulates erotic labour and enforces a particular policy of data extraction through its ToS. The aim is to dig into Privacy's governance model, understanding how it manages erotic labour and imposes certain working conditions and how it collects and processes vital data from sex workers. The analysis focuses on the documents "Terms and Policies" and "Privacy" that compose Privacy's ToS. The documents will be examined through an ethnographic approach (Lowenkron & Ferreira, 2014) and thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). This project follows the ethical guidelines to approach digital phenomena established by 2020 Internet Research: Ethical Guidelines 3.0, elaborated by the Association of Internet Researchers. (AU)

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