Ning lets users instantly build their own social networks, and until this week, social networks built around adult or pornographic themes were allowed, but then Ning CEO Gina Bianchini spiked adult networks in a blog post.
"Adult social networks don’t pull their own weight," she wrote. "Specifically, they require other social networks to work harder because they don’t generate enough advertising or premium service revenue to cover their costs. Plus, our ad partners aren’t big fans of the adult networks and therefore require us to identify adult networks or risk our healthy advertising revenue. We don’t want to be in the policing business and, unchecked, that’s where this is heading."
But Ning still allows social networks dedicated to nudism, breast-feeding, nude art, and medical information that includes nudity. The site also hosts networks that help people of all stripes connect, including heterosexual, gay and transgender people.
What, indeed, constitutes "adult content" for Ning?
Bianchini posted a blog that attempted to clarify her company's definition of "adult."
“As it relates to the Ning Platform, adult networks include, but aren’t limited to pornography and depictions of sexual acts,” she said, adding that networks that include pornography, sexual acts or other graphic images intended to arouse or to indulge a fetish aren't allowed.
Bianchini explained that by allowing adult social networks, Ning receives more DMCA takedown notices while opening itself up to more illegal content.
Eminent tech analyst Michael Arrington suggested that Ning's motivation may have have also included an old-fashioned desire to make money. He noted that Ning's only advertising partner is Google, which won't post AdSense ads on sites with adult content of any kind.
"Ning was at risk of being banned by Google despite the fact that only a very small portion of the networks on Ning are adult oriented," he wrote for TechCrunch.com.