As the virus keeps many of us still stuck in our homes, apps such as Skype and Facetime become our go to virtual portal of human connectivity, forming a deeper online intimate space. For the kinky and the curious, these apps become havens for satisfying sexual desire. The humble video app Zoom, usually used as a stale conferencing video call, now fills the void of all our voyeuristic and exhibitionist kinks. The video teleconferencing app has become the unlikely meeting space for those bored in the house and horny wanting to take part in 'play parties'. These parties usually consist of gridlocked screens of other socially-distanced people wanking off simultaneously.
The U.K based high profile sex club Killing Kittens made headlines for hosting a 100 person orgy in March via Zoom. The party hosted burlesque performances, cages, bath scenes and fire shows. Yet the tech companies facilitating these happenings are not impressed by their apps newfound purpose. Zoom's policies explicitly prohibit obscene and indecent behaviour. A spokesperson telling Rolling Stone, "we encourage users to report suspected violations of our policies" they claim, "we use a mix of tools, including machine learning, to proactively identify accounts that may be in violation". Executives for Zoom did not comment on how exactly these machine learning tools plan to detect how members were engaging in mutual masturbation en masse.
This kind of intrusive activity goes against Zoom's privacy policies. They claim calls are encrypted, yet according to a Guardian article, they were proven wrong by a report in the Intercept. Zoom's website insists "we do not sell your personal data" while Vice news claims, Zoom is sending data to Facebook. Zoom suggests "your meetings are yours, we do not monitor them". Then how is it ethical to use said "machine learning" to identify all of the forbidden debauchery going on? Further on from this, many users have also been subject to Zoom bombers, people who trespass meetings, an unwanted intrusion for any Zorgy. These issues force us to consider the implications of intimacy, sexuality and privacy when lived out online.
Not every organiser looks to Zoom, with some favouring a more curated experience over the standardised grid of faces one duly recognises from the conference call a couple of hours prior. Daniel Saynt, founder of New Society for Wellness (NSFW) chose not to use Zoom, "because they are not sex-positive and choose to police people on their platform." NSFW is a New York City-based private members club and a creative agency for sexual wellness and cannabis brands. Now "home of the digital sex party" hosted by sex-positive leaders featuring performances sure to turn you on. An event for an upcoming playdate, the lockdown edition in the digital clubhouse that offers multiple rooms for users to explore and show off on camera; couples only, frat, femme and a fluid room- whatever your sexual desire.
The admirable genius of such online meetups is the international capacity, which enhances a feeling of acceptance. Even for those who's kinks or sexualities may not be welcomed in their real-life environment. Yet, Big Tech companies perpetuate the idea of the human body as pure and attempt to banish the dirty and the obscene to the corners of the web. The hypocrisy of censoring human bodies ignores the fact we all have a naked body when we go home, and at the moment we are forced to be nowhere but home. For those whose sexual life is sometimes lived outside of four walls, one must think of innovative ways to fulfil these desires. Necessity is the mother of invention, and sex is a human need. While Zorgies and online sex parties may highlight the uncertainty and separation that we collectively experience, they offer both sweetness and sustenance to those of us who are socially (and sexually) deprived.