Anyone who's been paying attention knows that Twitter has been a shit show lately.
As a site, it was always controversial, a more free-wheeling alternative to the carefully manicured (and, for figure photographers, aggressively pruned) Meta sites. You could post nude photos there, usually without any push-back; in fact, sex workers also posted relatively unimpeded, with explicit images and video clips advertising their Patreon, OnlyFans, and PornHub pages. The site was also famous or infamous for hosting wild discussions among those with extreme political opinions of all varieties, focusing its pruning on only the most virulent misinformation and hate speech. Like a Wild West saloon, you were pretty much guaranteed to run into something offensive, in the form of raw images and verbal hyperbole -- but you walked through the door expecting it, and knowing that the site had decent bouncers that would throw out anyone who threatened violence in the real world.
Then Elon Musk purchased the site, and that finely calibrated balance went to hell. He fired huge swaths of the staff, and re-opened doors that had previously been closed to the worst of the bad actors. He altered algorithms to promote extreme content and obliterated the controls previously in place to keep out nefarious accounts. Worst of all, he explicitly stated his personal alliance with right-wing ideologies, including antisemitism and white nationalism, and his opposition to diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially as it applies to queer people.
As a person of conscience, I've always payed attention to the ideologies that business owners explicitly tie to their companies. On one hand, I don't really care if the CEO or the owner of a business is a rabid Trump supporter so long as they keep it to themself. Lots of companies that sell lots of products have diverse employees, some of whom are bound to be racist or homophobic or worse, even as the official posture of the company may be neutral or even supportive of progress ideas.
But when the company itself, or the CEO on behalf of the company, aligns himself with antisemitic and anti-trans ideologies, and explicitly rebuilds the site in a way that encourages those groups to use his platform to spread their ideas, then it is time for me to leave the room.
When Hobby Lobby went all the way to the Supreme Court to defend their right to limit insurance coverage for their female employees, excluding coverage for birth control and abortion, they explicitly tied their company to that political position, and as a consequence I have never and will never walk through their doors, no matter how good their sales are. When Chick-fil-a took an explicit stand against LGBTQ rights, I vowed that I would rather go hungry than give them a dollar of my business.
I stayed with Twitter for a long time, trying to say that Musk's personal tirades didn't really represent the company. But it has become increasingly obvious that that is wishful thinking.
And so I have not yet deleted my account, but stopped posting on the site at the beginning of July. We'll see how things go, but honestly it looks like Twitter may crash and burn on its own even before I fully divest. Elon Musk is doing everything he can to "X" out any vestige of value.
So, where to go instead? I've explored some of the alternatives floating around out there; I like Mastodon, for example, though when I joined a year ago I found it complicated and confusing. (Case in point: I forgot that Mastodon is actually a collection of federated sites, so the main Mastodon link above didn't even recognize me; I'd forgotten that my federated group is actually at Photog.social. My personal page is here, but I haven't posted to it yet.) I need to go back and explore further and see whether it might be a community of like-minded artists that might appreciate what I have to offer artistically. I can't even remember the names of some of the other sites people are talking about. And Threads? Hell no. The last thing I need is yet another Meta site with ultra-Puritanical attitudes toward art.
I've joined a new site called Implied.vip, and so far this looks like it has the potential to offer what I and so many others are looking for. The site is buggy -- the app sometimes bogs down after scrolling through a few dozen posts and has to be restarted -- but that's presumably fixable. You have to sign up to see anything, which I think is fine, and you have to verify your identity to post, which I also support. But then your public posts can be just about anything you want, so long as they're artistic -- partial and full nudity are OK. The site has options for putting some content behind a pay wall of your choosing, so if you wish, you can, for example, put your more sexually explicit images behind a locked subscription door that costs $5/month, or $10, or $30, to open. I haven't tried this option yet, as I want to get established on the site first, but I've seen others do it. I have to think that the audience on Implied.vip isn't large enough yet for this to provide more than minor income -- most people still post links to their Patreon and OnlyFans pages rather than duplicating those efforts on Implied. But if the site continues to grow, maybe people will start using those services more.
So far, the vibe is less like the Wild West and more like a community art gallery. It attracts all kinds of artists: professional figure photographers, glamour artists, camera hobbyists, sex workers and porn creators. You can see a thread made up only of the people you've chosen to follow, or you can "discover" similar content. In this way you know what you're getting, or approximately so. There are no ads every third post.
Honestly, the only down-side is that the community is still pretty small. I think they just advertised that they'd passed 10,000 users, compared to Instagram and Twitter's millions. It has flown very much under the radar -- I can't find any news stories online about it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but also makes one wonder about its long-term future. And it remains to be seen whether, as they grow, they can continue to balance the art makers with those who prefer to make pornography.
Right now, I've followed a bunch of figure artists. Only a couple of the models I've worked with are on the site, including Kristy Jessica and Jessa Ray Muse, but it's nice to see their work uncensored, in the form they were originally intended. I see other models and artists lurking, so hopefully they'll join as well.
I hear that they have ideas for making the site even friendlier to photographers and models, including building tools like Model Mayhem has to link people up with collaborators.
But for now, the site is good enough, and easy enough to use, that it's worth my time posting to it, especially since it is literally the only social media option specifically tailored to photographers and models (please correct me if I'm wrong!). Find my content at https://www.implied.vip/sensualight. Sign up and watch my uncensored feed. Get your friends to join, too. Leave comments and join conversations. Watch what happens, and share your experiences with me if you like. I'd love to hear what you like, or don't. Is this the future online community we've been hoping for? What do you think?