Strip-teasing COVID-19 porn: A promising silhouette of a community, or the dark alley of a platformized industry?
Government’s domestic lockdown measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 during 2020 altered the patterns of media consumption, and massively boosted the traffic on video-streaming services including porn sites. This research explores the impact of COVID-19 on PornHub in three ways: video content, conditions of production, and related users’ activity. The analysis of a sample of 286 videos within a cluster of thematically relevant tags shows that what appears to be an emerging genre of COVID-19 porn is only a reshuffle of previously consolidated genres scaffolding its symbolic background. The analysis also shows that among the explicit sexual practices, some videos include pedagogical and humoristic insights. These apparently off-topic videos show societal and awareness-raising purposes. This article argues that the capacities of the PornHub interface enable social interactions that transcend the strictly sexual encounter, thus showing a form of social community of practice.
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