Pornography for a Better Tomorrow

Donating to charities for each video watched -- and hoping to supplant the "fake, violent, macho-centered" culture -- a nonprofit porn site is rethinking ethics for the industry.

Susana Vera / Reuters's FAQ includes the question "Is pornography intrinsically bad?" 

Their answer is no, but with the substantial caveat that any argument defending the current state of Internet porn is tenuous at best.

Many people consuming free pornography think that the only risk they may run into is that of being discovered by others. This idea, however, is not just naïve, but also wrong, for the current model of consuming online sexual content has many negative implications for all of us.

They're referring to people being exploited and business models "subjugat[ing] our sexual imagination to marketing standards." By redirecting revenues to charities and letting a flow of ethical user-uploaded videos shape and drive their new site, though, creators Riccardo Zilli, Marco Annoni, and Daniele Marucci believe they can foster a healthy culture that "reflects the natural plurality of human sexuality." 

As Annoni puts it, "The time has come to rethink, critically, the relationship between the Internet and sexuality, in its impact, role, form, and scope."

meritbadgeman.jpg will function like a social network, with profiles, contacts, and free user-generated content. It's like Facebook, but with the nature of the poking is different, and people are more forthcoming about their interest in sex. Users upload videos and then link them to a charitable cause of their choice -- a malaria prevention organization, for example. Then every time someone watches that video, mosquito net distributors (instead of the messed-up porn industry) get money. Everybody feels good.

The site's revenue will come from advertising, including ads from the mainstream adult industry, which they say sees profits of $100 billion annually and speaks to the potential for this project. 

Some question whether charitable organizations will accept donations from a porn site, albeit a high-minded, socially-conscious one. Just last week Komen for the Cure "adamantly rejected" a large donation from a mainstream porn site in support of breast cancer awareness. But Come4 is confident there will be plenty of willing recipients, citing their existing relationship with The Asta Philpot Foundation, which raises awareness for people with disabilities. In line with Come4's code of sexual ethics, though, they're of course not going to force themselves on anyone.

What the founders of Come4 hope will be the next "sexual revolution" is, for now, still in the donation-upstart phase. The potential to divert even a small portion of mainstream porn's profits to charities while promoting more ethical, transparent industry is intriguing, though. They plan to be operational by early 2013.

If you want to check out their site, it is SFW except for a nipple and a prominent vagina that pop up periodically. But they also cite Mill's On Liberty. So I guess it depends where you work. Play the odds?

[h/t Death and Taxes]

Presented by

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk.

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