Episode 33 - Pornhub, Paypal, and Decentralized Services


PayPal recently cut off Pornhub from its service and consequently put the livelihoods of over one hundred thousand performers at risk. How did Pornhub respond? What can we learn from this?

My name is Ryan, and I am an agorist. Today, we are talking about Pornhub, Paypal, and the importance of decentralized services.

In any top website ranking that you'll read, Pornhub is always high up the list. It is one of the biggest and most heavily visited websites on the internet. That being the case, it was a huge shock when PayPal abruptly dropped them from its service in 2019. This didn't just affect the website itself, but also their hundred or so thousand performers who were we paid via PayPal. This was people's livelihoods suddenly being cut off. Yikes.

This leads to an important question. Can you really be free if you have to trust a third party for payments from your customers or clients? Are you really free if your livelihood depends on someone "allowing" you use their system?

The obvious answer is no.

This website and these performers didn't do anything wrong by using PayPal. I, for one, use PayPal almost daily. It is a very convenient service! But, that convenience comes at a price. Anything that I do via PayPal, I do because they allow it. The system is theirs. They write the terms of service. I am their customer. Just as I can choose who I will and will not associate with, so can PayPal. If they don't want your business, they are not obligated (outside of a specific contract) to keep you around.

In an age where Facebook and Twitter ban those who express politically-incorrect opinions, where YouTube demonetizes any video they want using their ever-changing rationales, and where PayPal can at any time cut you off from your livelihood, one cannot help but be reminded of the importance of decentralized solutions. Any time you have a central group or company or anything which controls a service you use, you are left at their mercy. They are a bottleneck for your freedom. Meanwhile, decentralized and distributed services are ones where you are free to do what you want, whether good or bad, and consequences are left to the market itself rather than a centralized group of people who hold all the power.

One of the best examples of decentralized/distributed solutions is cryptocurrency. A well-designed cryptocurrency exists in a secure blockchain, distributed across countless machines all around the world. Every machine has equal access to the chain and every machine has equal priority when it comes to transactions. With a decentralized/distributed cryptocurrency, there is no one group who can cut you off, who can kick you off the chain. You are free.

Not surprisingly, Pornhub decided to move deeper into cryptocurrencies after PayPal dropped them. They now offer to pay performers via a cryptocurrency called Tether (USDT), built on TRON's blockchain. I'd love to see other websites and other performers move to cryptocurrencies. They are a fantastic, free, and open way to make payments. The more that companies like PayPal tighten their grip on their customers, the more people will move toward decentralized payment solutions.

Now, these girls and other performers might be a bit more free since they have begun using cryptocurrencies, but I hope they realize that there is still at least one centralized group which their work depends on. They might have moved away from PayPal, but just as PayPal dropped Pornhub, for all we know PornHub could turn around and drop any of these performers as well.

I don't know of any real decentralized and distributed alternatives to PornHub (and I don't plan to look that up myself), but if these performers value their freedom I hope that they are.

Being an agorist means finding ways to be the most free now, despite anyone and anything around you. One of the best strategies toward freedom is finding decentralized/distributed solutions to our needs today. Every time you replace a centralized service with something open and decentralized, you become that much more free, and that much more in control of your own future. That's a darned good way to be.

This is TechnoAgorist, episode 33.