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Prevent minors from viewing and creating 18+ posts

I saw someone I follow mention this, but apparently there is no age gate for creating or viewing 18+ posts at the moment. I'm sure this is in the cards or already on the other bug tracker, but I wanted to make sure it was posted here as well.

Description of problem(s) to be solved:

  • Cohost offers the ability to mark posts as containing 18+ content, which gives users the ability to prevent these posts from showing automatically. When a user who is under the age of 18 signs up on the site, however, those users can still view and create these posts, because of the site's lack of mechanism to collect the user's age and gate the availabilty of said posts appropriately.

Proposal of feature for resolution:
  • Provide a mechanism to collect the user's age at time of signup.
  • Provide a mechanism to use the user's age to automatically control access to the ability to create and view 18+ posts depending on whether the user is above the age of 18 or not.

Alternate solutions explored:
  • A toggle could be provided within the user settings to completely turn on and off the ability to view and create 18+ content.
  • The labeling of this toggle would have to make its purpose clear -- e.g., have the toggle state "I am over the age of 18" instead of "Allow 18+ content to be viewed and created", because of the possibility of confusion between this toggle and the already-existing "hide adult content behind a clickthrough" toggle.
  • This method loses the benefit of being able to give users access to the 18+ content viewing and creating controls automatically upon becoming 18 years of age, and some users may forget to switch the toggle upon becoming 18 years of age.

11 people like this idea

This is a really serious issue and needs to be resolved as soon as possible. I will not be publishing adult content until it is resolved.

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Unless cohost gets into the expensive and privacy-violating business of actually verifying age restrictions (which sadly it might legally be forced to do in some places), this is just security theatre. I also really don't like how this inevitably leads to trying to prevent non-logged-in users from viewing 18+ content.

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Idc if it's just '''security theatre'' and effort should be made in the first place lmao. cohost shouldn't be roblox levels of lazy re moderation.

With the greatest of respect, I don't think “lazy” is a word we should be casually throwing around in this forum. The devs are being very kind by choosing to spend some of their time implementing new features. There are legitimate reasons for not implementing something or for not prioritising it.

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This should be a pretty high priority, as being negligent about implementing measures to try and prevent minors from seeing adult content risks both harm to minors and (if I'm not mistaken) is against the law

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Ah, right, I forgot that cohost already collects the user's age at signup. In that case, knowing users' (self-reported) ages and not gating content appropriately does seem like a potential liability issue.

Hmm, there might be nothing to do here?

I created a test account right now, notactuallyaminor, whose "date of birth" is 2004-11-11, i.e. as of today they are exactly 16 years old. I then created a test post on my real account that was marked at 18+. I tried to view that post using notactuallyaminor and it said "This post contains 18+ content. We're hiding it according to your content preferences." So then I went to the preferences and turned off "hide adult content behind a clickthrough?", but the post was _still_ not accessible. The message was still the same, but I think it's just misleading.

I haven't had posting enabled on that account yet so I can't speak to whether under-18s can post 18+ content.

Amusingly, I can share 18+ content on that account, but I can't actually view what it is before sharing it. That should probably be fixed.

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Uhh sorry I meant to say their date of birth was 2006-11-11.

It seems this thread is mostly based on a misunderstanding, then? I vaguely remember, back around the first activation queue era, staff acknowledging the slightly bizarre situation where minors can make 18+ posts that they're then not able to see, but I can't recall what decision (if any) was made about that. The ability to view 18+ posts while logged out (thus with a weaker age gate) came later, and it might be a good idea to allow disabling that as a page setting, but that's probably something for a separate feature request.

So this is definitely a misunderstanding. Minors cannot view 18+ posts made by other users. Furthermore, adults cannot view 18+ posts made by minors. However, minors are indeed allowed to make 18+ posts which only OP can see until they turn 18.

This might seem very strange, but think about this. Staff do not want to act in loco parentis and tell 16-year-olds they're not allowed to draw porn or write terrible erotic fan fiction. They also don't want minors to post that content without tagging it as 18+, which would then allow minors to see it! But if minors are not allowed to tag posts as 18+, the likely outcome is posting what they want to post without tagging it properly. Staff then also do not want to be in the business of having to moderate posts by minors and decide if that particular erotic fan fiction written by a minor is "too erotic" for a sixteen year old to be writing or not. This is not only very difficult it's also ensuring that adults, staff, are now looking at 18+ content made by minors, which under the current state of things is not possible. 

But, of course, at the same time, it feels very weird for adults to be able to see 18+ content made by minors. So we end up in this very strange solution, which staff know is strange, where the best solution is to allow minors to tag posts as 18+, to allow them to see their own posts so that they don't just lose whatever they wrote, but to then hide those posts from everyone except OP until they turn 18. At that point, it's on them to maybe go back and delete their terrible erotic fan fiction from when they were 16 if they don't want people seeing it.

Obviously any photographic 18+ content a minor created is illegal and would get them banned immediately. But... as far as I know if somebody is now 18... there shouldn't be any laws broken or danger is people being able to see a titty they drew two years ago? Unless of course that drawn titty belongs to a fictional minor, in which case it's against the rules. 

If you have a better solution to this situation, I'm sure staff would like to hear it, because it's definitely strange.

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I'm not a minor, and I think the voices of minors should be heavily consulted on this instead of those like mine, but:

I think there is, and should be, a distinction between staff (personally) not wanting to restrict the ability of young artists to create potentially unsafe works in their private lives, and the platform's (as an entity) decision on whether or not it should host such works created by minors. Even if staff can't see content marked this way without direct database access, and even if allowing this doesn't break any laws, I cannot help but think that this is a decision that could come back to bite the platform in the butt later on. 

My ideal solution would be to:

  • Prohibit minors from using the 18+ content feature entirely
  • Gray out the button, adding a tooltip or something similar that says that the feature will be unlocked when the user turns 18, and reminding them that posting 18+ content in the meantime is a bannable offense
  • Ensure that content moderators see the poster's date of birth alongside any reported posts

If cohost does continue to allow minors to use the 18+ toggle for their own posts: is it made clear to them (in a tooltip near the toggle, or similar) that only they can see those posts, and that they'll become visible to the world upon turning 18? I also feel that it would have to be labeled something else, because as it is it gives the impression that people over the age of 18 can see the post.

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The reason I had originally posted this was mainly because of this post by the person whose post I linked to in the OP. It's clearly an 18+ post that, within it, states that the user is 16, so I'm not sure if this is an issue where t he birthdate is incorrectly applied, or if the age gate is just not working correctly, but I am not a minor and I can see this 18+ post that a minor has posted.

Staff has addressed this, btw: The plan is to make it so 18+ posts by minors can be saved as drafts but not actually posted until they turn 18.

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