Home Internet What Happened to e621 in North Carolina?

What Happened to e621 in North Carolina?

Are you a furry in North Carolina with a proclivity for adult content? You may not be able to access one of your favorite websites anymore. Before the clock struck 12 on New Year’s Eve, the internet’s most popular furry website pulled access for its North Carolina users over a new state law.

That’s right: e621 is down in the state.

“Due to the current legal situation in North Carolina and the uncertainty surrounding it, we will be blocking access to e621.net from North Carolina until we can consult with our legal counsel on this matter,” the site said in an official announcement published on December 31. “We did not come to this decision lightly and we will do what we can, as we can, to rectify and remedy the situation so that we can restore access to those users that are affected by this matter.”

As of January 2, e621 has a meeting planned to receive further legal guidance on the matter. “We’ll try to have an update soon for you all,” the site tweeted.

What is e621?

Owned by Bad Dragon CEO Varka, e621 is an enormous furry imageboard website. With over 3.9 million posts hosted on e621, the site remains the most popular furry website on the entire internet, outranking furry art website FurAffinity in terms of users and overall worldwide site ranking, per Similarweb and Semrush.

While e621 is an imageboard, it doesn’t share similarities to 4chan, 7chan, or 8kun. Instead, the site functions similarly to Danbooru, a gallery-based website featuring an extensive tagging system for NSFW anime artwork. Just like the anime booru website, e621 offers furry art fans an extensive and thoroughly tagged collection of illustrated and computer-generated furry pornography. And while yiff content isn’t the only thing on e621, it’s the main reason why users log on to the site—hence e621’s decision to block the imageboard in North Carolina.

Why did e621 pull out of North Carolina?

The e621 homepage, as of Jan. 2, 2023

In September 2023, the Pornography Age Verification Enforcement Act was signed into state law after passing through North Carolina’s Republican-majority Senate and House. The PAVE Act went into effect on January 1, 2024.

Under PAVE, North Carolina now requires “any commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material harmful to minors on the internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of such material” to “verify the age of the individuals attempting to access the material.” If a pornographic website allows an underage user to access material deemed “harmful to minors,” a lawsuit may be brought against the offending company.

Age verification policies are generally considered expensive, demanding, and legally risky ventures for an adult website, forcing platforms to stop hosting their services in affected jurisdictions. PornHub pulled access in North Carolina shortly before the new year began, with its parent company, Aylo (previously known as MindGeek), implying PAVE’s implementation would be “ineffective, haphazard, and dangerous.”

“Any regulations that require hundreds of thousands of adult sites to collect significant amounts of highly sensitive personal information is putting user safety in jeopardy. Moreover, as experience has demonstrated, unless properly enforced, users will simply access non-compliant sites or find other methods of evading these laws,” Aylo stated, according to FOX Carolina. “The only solution that makes the internet safer, preserves user privacy, and stands to prevent children from accessing adult content is performing age verification at the source: on the device.”

Under North Carolina law, content deemed “harmful to minors” is defined as “that quality of any material or performance that depicts sexually explicit nudity or sexual activity” with certain law-violating characteristics. More specifically, “the average adult person applying contemporary community standards” must believe the content in question “appeals to a prurient interest of minors in sex,” is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community concerning what is suitable for minors,” and the content in question must be seen as lacking artistic or educational merit.

Furries are already outthinking North Carolina

An example of e621, featuring safe-for-work official art from Cult of the Lamb
An example image on e621, featuring safe-for-work official art from Cult of the Lamb.

While the PAVE Act doesn’t explicitly target furries, it’s no secret that conservatives hate the furry fandom. Right-wingers have long fear-mongered over the furry community, (falsely) claiming that schools are causing a furry social contagion by letting young kids identify as pets and piss in litter boxes. So any blow to the adult furry community in North Carolina likely comes as no big loss to the more conspiratorially-minded Republicans in the state.

But furries are a crafty bunch, and North Carolina’s furries likely won’t be held back from using the website for long. On the r/NorthCarolina subreddit, a post with over 140 upvotes encouraged users to get on a VPN to keep using e621, even offering to help new users with the process.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, one user vowed to run an “e621 smuggling operation,” acting as if North Carolina had introduced a neo-prohibition era on yiff. “Gonna take orders and send zips through email f***in porn prohibition welcome to the nasty furry speakeasy,” he tweeted, receiving over 200 likes.

So even if e621 is down in North Carolina, furries will inevitably find their way to all the Sonic porn and egg-laying Yoshi smut their hearts desire. Even if they shouldn’t have to do so.

(featured image: Chris/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed)

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