As a program of HIM, HUSTLE is committed to providing information and resources that can assist guys with making healthy, informed decisions about their lives. We neither condemn nor condone an individual’s decision to engage in sex work, but rather support guys by providing them with resources, no matter where they currently may exist on the continuum of sex work – be it active involvement, transition, or desire to exit. The information we provide should not be considered a ‘how-to’ guide to beginning sex work, but rather relevant tips and resources on what we have learned about protecting oneself while working in a safer, more informed way. Thank you.
We live in an environment where digital and real lives often intersect – this is true especially for professionals and people expanding their work into an online venue. However, we are currently finding out every day how easy it is to lose control over our personal privacy and security when we don’t protect ourselves online (the most ready example being identity theft). Despite how ‘connected’ we are, there will always be people who don’t know the precautions to take or how real-world privacy concerns can be damaged through the Internet. This is especially true for sex workers, who may be put at risk for harassment or blackmail if their personal information leaks. That said, we have put together a few simple tips for guys working online to keep in mind.
When advertising your services on an online platform, you are potentially exposing your information to more than just your desired audience. Consider editing your photos, if you choose to use any, to cover up tattoos or piercings that could be used to identify you. Many workers agree it is wise to work under a fake name, and to keep your ‘true identity’ as protected as possible. This applies to both online and offline work!
There are lots of people out there who are ‘pic collectors’ – they steal other guys’ pictures and claim them as their own, and send them out to other people in order to obtain more and more pics. There’s not too much that can be done about this, which is why it is best to cover up any identifying marks or body mods you have. That way, if your pics are used by someone else without your knowledge, they can’t be held against you or identified easily as you, potentially getting you into an unpleasant situation.
Online Posting and the Law
Under Canada’s new legislation surrounding sex work, advertising sexual services online falls into a murky gray area of what is considered ‘communicating within public view’. Clients or sex workers themselves may be at risk by utilising online communication, or if an agency or collective of workers is looking to work together. We wrote about this topic a little more in-depth here: Safety Tip: Bill C-36 The best way to protect yourself is with information!
Most guys use pics from their phones or webcams to advertise themselves online. This is practical and easy, as you can delete the pics right away when you’re finished, or save them to use again later – however, there is EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) data that is stored every time you take a picture with digital cameras or phones. This data may include things like your location, date and time the photo was taken, and there are various websites out there that can comb this data to find whatever someone is interested in. This usually would only happen if someone was specifically looking to find out about you, but if you wish to take precautions, there is an informative article here:What is EXIF Data and How to Remove It
Sex work online has a lot of options that may not be readily available for ‘offline only’ workers – with cam and clip sites, social platforms for purchasers and sellers to contact each other, and a variety of different networks to advertise and promote your services, there are many more opportunities to make money, and many opportunities to have something go awry. With the rapid expansion of sexual services online, however, there has also emerged a large and global network of sex workers supporting, informing and helping each other, especially now with so much happening in the political arena. Staying connected to peer information networks that have been established on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook may help you to inform and protect yourself in the ever-changing online world, as well as offline.
The area of payment is always a delicate one, and on the Internet is no exception. There have been recent struggles with sites, such as Backpage, no longer being able to support credit card payments for their advertising services. PayPal may terminate your account (and any funds will be frozen) if they discover there are sexual services for sale. Many of the platforms and sites catering to sex workers and their clients are able to offer money transfer services, and online sex worker communities have been discussing how to utilize cryptocurrencies (such as bitcoin) for their payment. For more information on this, and a breakdown of cryptocurrency and what this means for sites like Backpage, please see this article.
There are far more resources readily available (online!), and new information coming out every day. We encourage you to contact us (email@example.com) if you have specific privacy concerns, or want to know more about how to protect yourself. If there is a topic you feel we should cover in future Safety Tips, please do not hesitate to let us know! We will have more tips coming up monthly for working safer on and offline.