She Was Booted From Bumble for Being a Porn Star

·6 min read
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos Handouts
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos Handouts

A couple of months back, Bunny Colby tried logging in to Bumble, the women-centric dating app, when she noticed something strange. “This screen popped up that said, essentially, You are banned, and this is why,” she says.

The app claimed that she was expelled for promoting her social media and engaging in “commercial activity.” Colby says she was confused. While she is an adult star, having acted in dozens of porn films and racked up a number of AVN Award nominations, she says she wasn’t using the platform for anything other than to meet a potential partner, nine months or so into a once-in-a-century pandemic.

“My profile was very tame,” says Colby. “Obviously, what I do for a living is ‘controversial’ for some people, but everything else about my life is very boring. I just pay my taxes and stay at home with my cats and read. My profile just said, ‘I like cats, blah blah.’ And then I had my Instagram handle in it, @BunnyColby, and it wasn’t even hyperlinked—just the text. And Instagram is a very PG app, so I don’t have anything too racy on there either.”

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The Daily Beast observed screenshots of Colby’s Bumble profile that indeed seem uncontroversial, with the page including a few photos of her, her age (28), her location (Los Angeles), and a short bio: “Cat lady. Internet person. Nice people only. @BunnyColby.” It contains no links.

Colby subsequently DM’d @BumbleSupport on Twitter, asking why she was booted from the service. She sent in a series of screenshots of other users, mostly men, who had their Instagram handles in their bios. In a series of messages seen by The Daily Beast, Bumble’s support staff stated that they were looking into the matter and then reinstated Colby’s account, alleging that it had been accidentally excised.

With her account back, Colby began scrolling through Bumble again—only to discover that something else was amiss. She wasn’t receiving any activity at all on her profile.

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“It became very clear that I was shadowbanned on it,” she maintains. “I don’t want to sound full of myself, but if you’re on the app for a couple of hours, you’re gonna have a couple of likes and a match or two—no matter what you look like. But I didn’t have a single one, so it was clear that my profile wasn’t being shown to people.”

She DM’d @BumbleSupport again, accusing them of shadowbanning—or stealthily blocking her. In response, they encouraged her to sign up for Bumble Boost, a $24.99/month upgrade. Colby declined. Then they notified her that a mistake had been made: Her profile never should have been restored in the first place, and she was indeed banned from using the app. Again they cited the promotion of social media and “commercial activity” as the reasons for her removal. When she questioned what exact “commercial activity” she was supposedly partaking in, they wrote: “Unfortunately, we can’t share specifics, but generally speaking commercial activity includes, but is not limited to seeking financial support, transactional activity, recruiting or soliciting for adult entertainment, selling/promoting any goods or services, or sharing links to any subscription-based services such as OnlyFans, ManyVids, Patreon, etc.”

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By that point, Colby says she was at a loss. “I’m not trying to find talent to work with or anything like that on Bumble. I don’t even work with men at this point—I haven’t for a year—or to try to sell them my OnlyFans. And I didn’t have any of that in my bio or profile,” she says. “And I don’t do full-service sex work. And the assumption that everyone in adult does full-service sex work is wrong, and the assumption that even a full-service sex worker would be on that app just to do sex work is wrong. Those people can also want authentic relationships, which is what Bumble says it exists for. Even if a full-service sex worker was on Bumble, if they’re not using it for full-service sex work, what’s the issue? Are they not allowed to have meaningful relationships?”

Porn stars have a fraught relationship with dating apps. Gay porn stars are regularly booted from Grindr, and many male adult stars have said they’ve been kicked off Tinder for a variety of nebulous reasons. Last year, porn actress Gianna Dior said she was unsure why she’d been ousted from Tinder, speculating that other users may have reported her profile as a fake—a problem that Hollywood actress Sharon Stone said she’d experienced on Bumble. (Colby says she has also been blocked from Tinder in the past, which unlike Bumble refuses to provide a reason for the decision. Tinder used to be owned by IAC, the parent company of The Daily Beast.)

But Bumble bills itself as a different kind of dating app—one that places the needs and comfort of women front and center. “It’s bullshit,” says Colby. “It’s supposed to be a feminist app started by women.”

Bumble and Tinder did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast for this story.

Colby suspects that dating apps like Bumble and Tinder are targeting adult stars due to FOSTA/SESTA—a congressional bill ostensibly meant to curb sex trafficking that has endangered the lives of sex workers by forcing them offline, thereby stripping them of their ability to screen potential clients or co-stars.

“It’s a fucked-up thing to do to someone during the pandemic, but also de-platforming sex workers from forming relationships on these apps that have a level of safety—versus initially meeting someone in person—is wrong,” says Colby. “We’re already an at-risk group of having intimate-partner violence or being raped, harassed, assaulted, or murdered on dates. We need the level of safety that these apps can confer to us.”

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“I’ve had the experience of people screaming at me and being threatening toward me, and it’s not the type of thing I’m trying to navigate right now,” she continues. “I’m navigating living in this post-pandemic world, and I don’t need that extra level of stress at this moment. It’s already frightening enough to be a woman—and to be a woman that looks the way I do, and that does the things that I do for a living.”

She says she’s hopeful that Bumble, Tinder, and other dating apps will change their tune and become more progressive toward sex workers like herself, who are already being throttled by credit card companies, payment processors, you name it.

“It can be anything. You can be denied for housing, lose a job you have outside the industry, lose relationships and family members. And now you’re being further alienated by these apps when you try to make connections with people,” says Colby. “I wasn’t planning an insurrection or anything. I was just swiping left and right, hoping that I don’t die alone.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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