Facebook and adult social networking: A dream that's all wet

Facebook is now at legal loggerheads with Faceporn, a new adult-oriented social networking site.
Written by Violet Blue, Contributor
I'd like to introduce Violet Blue, our newest Tech Broiler guest columnist. You might remember when I had Violet as a podcast subject when we discussed the various control mechanisms for restricting explicit content and ebooks on Apple's devices during the launch of the iPad back in March of this year.

My intention is for Violet to add some badly-needed "spice" to our frequently bland tech topics and continue the tradition of edginess which until now, has had a very male-oriented spin.

Also See: Podcast with Sexologist Violet Blue on eBooks, explicit content and iPad (March 2010)

For her first ZDNet article, Violet will be discussing recent developments with Faceporn, a new adult-oriented social network that is now at legal loggerheads with FaceBook -- Jason.

FacePorn Logo

How many times have you been stuck in the rat's maze of Facebook profile settings and thought, "This is such a turn-on. I can't believe that no one has made a porn version of Facebook, because surely this pleasure must be taken to the next level"?

Many times, we're sure. As it happens, you're not alone.

One website, Faceporn (Faceporn.com), decided that the constant stress of agonizing over personal privacy in social networks was going to be the next "Behind The Green Door" for our generations. Billing itself as "the number one socializing porn and sex network," the site aimed to create an X-rated social network, taking the literal "face book" concept to one of "face porn" which actually sounds a lot less appealing. They launched in April 2009.

Unfortunately for them, and everyone else with a Facebook fetish, Facebook did not like this very much. Two weeks ago, Facebook filed suit against Faceporn at U.S. District Court in Northern California, claiming trademark infringement.

In Facebook's court filing, the company stated that Faceporn "blatantly copied the Facebook logo, site and Wall trademark" while showing screenshots that exemplified Faceporn's blue-and-white color palette, Wall-style postings, and where users could send a "flirt" -- even though in this instance, you would think a "poke" would be more appropriate.

Faceporn, in their second Tweet ever, made a tiny peep on October 20 saying, "Forced to close down for a while, due to unforeseen circumstances. We'll be back though. Better than ever!"

In the meantime, Facebook wants the court to order Faceporn to turn over the domain and all of Faceporn's revenue. As many people know, Facebook has not hesitated in the past to take action over what it deems as potentially violating Facebook's trademark and intellectual property.

Last August Facebook sued a company called TeachBook with the claim that the site's use of the word "book" violated the Facebook trademark. In this instance, Facebook clearly does not like what is being done to "their" face. Facebook does not want porn in its face.

However, some people did, and they were willing to plunk down some cash to try and get a faceful of X-rated social networking. It remains to be seen as to how many users accidentally signed up for Faceporn instead of Facebook. Some might argue that it's an easy enough mistake to make as Facebook itself is so attractive, alluring, seductive and easy to use -- it could even be considered addictive. Those may also be the very same people who present similar arguments to their wives that the charges on their credit cards to Faceporn must have been made by someone else.

Surely, these well-meaning would-be Faceporners saw something they liked, something that might have even turned them on more than a blue-and-white color scheme, Wall-style posts, and the ever-arousing threat of having your personal information sold to advertisers. After all, you'd think that people would hand over their credit cards for a little more than a "flirt" even if they were pretty sure they're not going to actually get a "poke" out of it.

Those people probably also joined FacebookofSex.com and the non-ironically named SADOfacebook.com (these sites are NSFW and adults-only). Looking for a social networking experience that combines what could be the positive aspects of a social mega-site like Facebook with a decidedly adult aspect, in a perfect world, might be a pretty interesting social experience for grownups.

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Mind you, there are currently dozens of adult and porn social networking sites to choose among. Adding the layer of an experience like Facebook, annoyances and trust issues notwithstanding, might create an environment that isn't 100% porn and hook-up focused, but not 100% porn-free, non-transparently restrictive, or sanitized to extremes, either.

That's what a perfect Faceporn might look like. All of the good aspects of Facebook: finding people with similar interests that aren't necessarily about sex, but with whom you could also share a dirty gallery with for fun or… or more. Sharing links and videos with friends you've chosen in your own network, without the fear of censors deleting your posts without notice.

Why would anyone have wanted an adult Facebook in the first place? Maybe to join groups that Facebook never allows, or has a reputation for deleting without notice despite their popularity. Groups that discuss sexual health, fan clubs for models and performers, groups that rate and review adult toys, books and videos, pages for adult businesses and entrepreneurs, pages where you'd find ideas for fantasies and spicing up your sex life and networks for swingers (without required participation and safe for the curious). But on a smart Faceporn there would also be groups that are just for leading you to cybersex when you're looking for it.

Logging in, your Face-porny News Feed would be an amusing combination of all the not-for-minors things your networks have been doing, sharing and discussing. Dirty jokes and bawdy videos. Your "events" might include invites to live online shows, upcoming events and parties, singles' nights at your local clubs, plus classes and workshops for couples and adults ranging from flirting and pick-up tips to sex classes and porn star appearances.

While online you might join and play an online multiplayer game, like if Zynga got all grown up and made PornWars or StripWorld or PotFarmVille - along with poker. Lots of people want a MMORPG with adult themes; why not give them what they want in a context that feels safe and familiar (and charge for it)?

A visit to the ideal adult social network would combine the best aspects of what Facebook offers with sensibilities that encourage you to be a horny, inquisitive adult. All the things that are regularly removed from Facebook but don't quite fall into the "it's just porn" category. Wankers are welcome! And can be easily blocked. A strong safety net to keep the site free of minors and criminals. If it were my company, I'd even go the distance and make the privacy policy so clear and explicit, it would, in fact, be pornographic.

We're pretty sure this isn't what Faceporn offered, but hey - we can dream.

Since the filing, Faceporn has ceased operation and has posted a one-page statement promising to return with a redesign, claiming it will be "the best porn site the world has ever seen."

We have no idea what that even means.

So until the companies meet face-to-face in a January 2011 Face-off, go poke your lawyer just for fun. Lawyers love to be poked.

Do you think Facebook has gone too far, or is a pornographic version of Facebook just plain wrong? Talk back in the comments and let me know.

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