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Yet another service has kicked sex workers off its platform. According to Motherboard, Linktree, a tool that allows you to share multiple links with one URL online, has given sex workers the boot overnight and without warning. Banned users have taken to social networks like Twitter to announce that their accounts were banned "for inappropriate use" and didn't even get an email or any kind of notice about it. Some were reportedly billed for the service, which costs $9 per months for the Pro tier, but weren't refunded when their account was canceled.
Marlene Bonnelly, Head of Trust & Safety at Linktree, told the publication that the accounts that were banned shared a URL that violated its Community Standards. Bonnelly's statement reads:
"Per our company's policies, the Linktree accounts banned stemmed from sharing a URL which violated Community Standards by sharing advertisements for the sale of real-life sexual services."
Sex workers make use of tools like Linktree, because some platforms don't allow linking out to adult websites such as OnlyFans directly. Perhaps more importantly, they have to diversify make use of several websites, because they'll never know when a service will suddenly decide to ban adult content.
Financial services like PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, have long been known to close the accounts of people in the business of sex. Patreon banned content of a sexual nature back in 2017, and the number of services that decided not to host sex workers and their content have only grown since the US government passed FOSTA-SESTA a few years ago. Even OnlyFans, which has become synonymous with adult content, tried to ban "sexually explicit conduct" in 2021 until it suspended its planned policy change.
Linktree's Terms of Service states that a user must not "include any sexually explicit material (including pictures and language) on your Page itself or your account itself." However, it's vague and not entirely clear if linking to websites like OnlyFans has always been against its rules. It's also unclear why Linktree suddenly started banning sex workers when they'd been using the service without issue for quite some time, but people in the business of sex may want to find another link-sharing tool they can use.
Update 01/16/22 2AM ET: Linktree told Engadget that a lot of sex workers use the tool while adhering to legal and Community Standards guidelines. Advertising real life sexual services is not legal, the company said, and would have legal ramifications for the service. Bonnelly also clarified in a statement that users that were booted off will be refunded:
"Linktree will be reaching out to affected paying accounts in order to sort out refunds."