Cosmopolitan Magazine has pulled a new Snapchat channel for sexually explicit material after an outcry from concerned parents, children’s advocates, and many others.
According to the magazine’s original, now-deleted announcement, “Cosmo After Dark” was an “an X-rated weekly edition” which was “exclusively dedicated to all things hot and horny,” advertising sexually-explicit advice on various sexual positions, techniques, toys, and more.
Chris McKenna of the website Protect Young Eyes was among the first to raise concerns about the feature. He highlighted several screenshots from the channel’s debut, advertising “the 19 best sites to binge-watch porn on,” asking “would you ever do it with a sex robot,” and more.
“Why do we care?” McKenna said. “Because yesterday, I spoke to 240 eighth graders at a public middle school in Michigan. I asked the class to raise their hand if they use Snapchat regularly. A rough estimate had around 80% of the class raising their hand.”
Cosmo ran its first “After Dark” edition last Friday evening, and it has confirmed there won’t be a second thanks to the backlash, McClatchy reports.
“We strive to be a responsible source of news, entertainment and information for our community, and understand the legitimate concerns parents have about what content their children consume,” Snapchat’s Rachel Racusen said. “From the start, Cosmo’s After Dark edition was age gated from Snapchatters under 18 and only intended for adults. Cosmo has decided to discontinue publishing any future versions of Cosmo After Dark on Snapchat, and we appreciate all the feedback we have heard from parents and members of our community about this content.”
Racusen’s statement stresses that the X-rated content was never available to minors, but McKenna warned that the age restriction could be easily circumvented by entering a fake birthday, and could not be consistently guarded against without the use of external web use monitoring services such as BARK.
In addition, the left-wing “fact-checking” website Snopes attempted to downplay the scandal by declaring it “inaccurate” to describe Cosmo After Dark’s material as pornographic. Reporters such as McClatchy’s Matthew Martinez went so far as to claim it was an “online myth” to call the channel porn.
However, Snopes’ “debunking” consists primarily of claiming “there is a big difference between a frankly-written article about sex positions and a video demonstrating said positions,” which is a subjective argument over what constitutes porn, not a statement of fact. In 1964, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously declared that “I know it when I see it” was a more apt way to define porn than a precise legal definition, and many would argue that graphic descriptions of sex acts, presented for the express purpose of sexual gratification, would easily qualify.
Bizarrely, Snopes cites as further evidence the fact that the “Best Porn Sites” article referenced earlier “is (somewhat) censored.” Yet their own screenshot of the article shows porn video thumbnails that clearly display multiple sex acts, with only the subjects’ genitals censored. Even so, Snopes ends the article with the matter-of-fact declaration that “the channel does not show pornography.”
Snapchat is one of several mainstream companies that children and parents’ advocates, including the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), have called out for making sexual content available to kids. Cosmo’s magazine, meanwhile, is infamous for promoting sexual promiscuity in explicit ways, as well as for advocating causes such as abortion.