OnlyFans Bans ‘Sexually Explicit Content’ From Its Platform
August 23, 2021
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by Stephen Kanyi

OnlyFans has in the last year grown to become the go-to site for a number of adult creators and sex workers looking to make a decent wage safely. The company’s recent announcement will however put all this to a halt, millions will lose their income streams.

The UK based subscription-based website recently announced that it will be banning all ‘sexually explicit content from its platform as of October 1st.

Rationale

The UK based company explained that the ban was necessary to comply with the requests of its banking partners.

“In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines,” the company said in a statement.

This decision is meant to appease their payment partners, many of whom have stringent rules around the type of content paid through their service. Visa and Mastercard for instance, cut ties with Pornhub, perhaps OnlyFans greatest rival, following accusations of the site showing videos containing rape and underage sex. Pornhub denied the claims but later tightened its rules on the kind of uploads while also removing said content from its platform.

OnlyFans has faced similar criticisms from various institutions and government agencies. In 2016, a BBC investigation found that a number of under-18s had used fake identification to set up accounts on the platform. These minors had sold explicit content on the website despite it being illegal to share such images online.

Tim Stokely, owner and founder of OnlyFans has come under intense fire due to these cases forcing him to close these accounts (15 in total) and refund all the active subscriptions.

The new policy while banning sexually explicit content will however not completely outlaw nudity on its platform. The company statement said that it would still allow ‘acceptable nudity’ on the platform. The problem will however be in discerning between pornographic images and ‘nudity’.

Putting all these aside, perhaps the best rationale for this new policy change is more about the money than the moral. The platform is seeking a new round of funding that would value it at more than $1 billion making it the UK’s newest unicorn, albeit a rather unique one.

OnlyFans gained popularity during the COVID period as millions of people lost their jobs and were forced to seek alternative ways of making a living. Today it has over 130 million users with about 2 million content creators. With net revenue of $375 million last year rising to an expected $1.2 billion this year according to an Axios report, it is clear to see the rationale behind the move. They want to appeal to a much more ‘mainstream’ audience.

Apart from pornographic creators, the site boasts chefs, body trainers and even a couple of celebrities like Cardi B who would, in theory, be the main sources of revenue going forward.

The Fallout

Despite their reasonable rationale, the new policy will be a big blow for millions of content creators on the platform. Many sex workers had come to rely on OnlyFans as their main, if not the only, source of livelihood for themselves and their families.

The fact is, despite the more ‘acceptable’ creators on the platform, most of the content on OnlyFans is sexually explicit, banning such will result in huge losses for both the company and the creators.

The platform has become a safe haven for sex workers who would have otherwise been forced back to the streets. Physically interacting with their clientele in a much less safe environment exposes them to all sorts of risks; sexually transmitted infections (STIs), arrests or even physical abuse.

While most people may look down upon sex work, the reality is it does exist. It is, after all, the ‘world’s oldest profession’ as it provides a much-needed service for both producer and consumer as evidenced by OnlyFans’ exponential revenue growth. Banning sexually explicit content on OnlyFans may result in more harm than good, especially for the most at-risk populations in society.

Reaction

Most content creators have understandably been gutted by the new policy. It means an end to their income stream after months of very successful earnings; many of them have been taking home more than $1 million in annual income for the past two years.

For conservative groups who may be more concerned about morals than the bottom line, the new policy change has been welcomed. CARE a Christian charity had previously warned that OnlyFans would fuel commercial sexual exploitation.

Commenting on the policy change, the charity’s human trafficking officer said that OnlyFans may be fueling commercial sexual exploitation.

“A curb of sexually explicit content could reduce the likelihood of exploitation by making explicit and pornographic content unprofitable. We await further detail from OnlyFans on the substance of new rules.”

Others have been quick to jump on the clear opportunity. American rapper Tyga recently announced that he would be launching his own rival platform ‘myystar’. Launching in October, the platform will allow sexually explicit videos and will take a 10% cut from the creator’s earnings, half of OnlyFans’ take.

Come October many are waiting to see the effects of this policy change on OnlyFans’ bottom line. It may mean an end to one of the most unique companies in the COVID- era.

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