Starbucks will Officially Install Porn Filters in U.S. Locations in 2019, Porn Sites Retaliate

By KC

Portions of this post were originally published by Newsweek. See their site for full coverage.

Starbucks is going to officially be a porn-free zone, starting in 2019.

According to multiple news outlets, the Seattle-based global coffee chain will have new filters in place to prevent customers from using its in-store free Wi-Fi from accessing explicit content.

In a statement to The Verge, Starbucks recently noted that using its WiFi to view pornography has always been banned, it’s just lacked the technological tools to actually filter all that stuff out, something they promised to do back in 2016. Now, they’re actually doing it.

Related: “Sexpresso” Coffee Shops Are Now In Business And We’re Horrified

A Starbucks spokesperson told Newsweek, “While it rarely occurs, the use of Starbucks public Wi-Fi to view illegal or egregious content is not, nor has it ever been, permitted. To ensure the ‘third place’ [between work and home] remains safe and welcoming to all, we have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores, and we will begin introducing it to our U.S. locations in 2019.”

The coffee giant did not provide further details on how, exactly, the ban would be enforced. But it said it had tested several tools and believes it could prevent the system from blocking sites it deems unacceptable.

Caving after years of pressure

Starbucks’s decision follows years of campaigning from internet safety group Enough Is Enough. The advocacy group renewed its push in 2016 after the coffee company said it would introduce a ban on adult content being accessed in its stores “once we determine that our customers can access our free Wi-Fi in a way that also doesn’t involuntarily block unintended content,” CNN reported at the time.

As a stopgap, the company said at the time it reserved the right “to stop any behavior that interferes with our customer experience, including what is accessed on our free Wi-Fi.”

But that promise didn’t satisfy campaigners, and some 26,000 people signed a petition demanding that porn and child sex abuse images be blocked from Starbucks’s free Wi-Fi.

Related: I Wore My ‘Porn Kills Love’ Tee To A Coffee Shop, And This Happened

Before the announcement, Enough Is Enough President and CEO Donna Rice Hughes said in a statement, “By breaking its commitment, Starbucks is keeping the doors wide open for convicted sex offenders and others to fly under the radar from law enforcement and use free, public Wi-Fi services to access illegal child porn and hardcore pornography.”

Dr. Gail Dines, Founder of anti-porn organization Culture Reframed, calls Starbucks’ move “excellent.” She also theorizes that Starbucks may have decided to install the filters now out of fear of lawsuits or lost revenues.

“Why would you go there with your kids when you could see someone watching porn, when you could go somewhere, like Panera, where you know you won’t,” she said. “No corporation acts out of the goodness of their heart.”

And speaking of corporations acting without good intentions, how are porn sites taking the news? Spoiler alert: not well.

Pornhub’s salty response: access to a “Safe for Work” category

Unsurprisingly, not everyone is pumped on the recent announcement.

Mashable reports that the world’s largest free porn site, Pornhub, announced its brand new “Safe For Work” category on Thursday directly in response to Starbucks—specifically designed to covertly surf the XXX site in public, though categories like “painal,” “teen,” and incest-related videos are clicks away.

Related: From Fashion To Adult Coloring Books, Pornhub Is Trying To Become America’s Favorite Lifestyle Brand

“While we were aware some people’s preference in a sexual partner mimics that of their coffee, we were unaware that people were acting on such impulses when getting their caffeine fix,” said Corey Price, VP, Pornhub, in a statement. “To comply with Starbucks’ new policy, we’ve created an option that allows fans to still enjoy great content to which they are accustomed, but that is appropriate for consumption in public places.”

If only all of Pornhub’s content was “safe for work.”

But here’s the catch: if consumers don’t use an ad-blocker, they’ll still be served some very, very not safe for work ads. In other words, save your clicks for your Christmas shopping.

YouPorn retaliates with shade: banning employees from using Starbucks

Adult website YouPorn (owned by the same company that owns Pornhub) has maturely responded to Starbucks’s decision to ban pornography from its free Wi-Fi by forbidding its employees from using the brand’s products.

According to Forbes, after Starbucks announced the decision to filter, Vice President Charlie Hughes sent a memo telling all full-time and part-time employees they would no longer be allowed to consume Starbucks products in the office.

“In light of the news that Starbucks has blocked customers from searching and viewing adult content within their establishments, Starbucks products will officially be banned from the YouPorn offices, effective January 1st, 2019,” the memo said, according to Forbes.

The memo added, “See your direct manager for any questions.”

Related: How To Start The Conversation On Porn’s Harms Without Saying A Word

YouPorn and Starbucks did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for YouPorn told Forbes the note was real, but it was unclear how employees who break the rule would be dealt with.

But did we expect anything more from a site that features MILF, anal, and amateur hardcore videos on its homepage?

Who will follow in Starbucks’ footsteps?

It may be a bit delayed, but Starbucks is finally making a much-needed change and we applaud them for it. Their stores provide free internet access to countless people all over the world each day, all of whom no longer have to worry about explicit images popping up while they enjoy their iced caramel macchiato.

Which major chain will step up next?

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