OnlyFans, the content subscription service turned porn site, has announced they will no longer be allowing sexually explicit content on their platform.
In a move that shocked the site’s users last week Bloomberg reported that “starting in October the company will prohibit creators from posting material with sexually explicit conduct on its website, which many sex workers use to sell fans explicit content”.
“They’ll still be allowed to put up nude photos and videos, provided they’re consistent with OnlyFans’ policy, the company said Thursday,” Bloomberg reported.
OnlyFans has become synonymous with internet debauchery, labelled by some as a “safe” and “consequence-free” way of selling sex that is “empowering” to women.
There is nothing empowering about the exploitation of women and girls, and a closer examination of the website’s content and users shows a virtual world of very real harm.
Julie Bindel, author of The Pimping of Prostitution: Abolishing the Sex Work Myth, spoke with one former user about what OnlyFans is really like for its female content creators.
“Each subscriber paid me £10 a week and after the cut from OF I was left with £8,” said the woman.
“I needed to get as many subscribers as possible so I could pay my rent which means posting new images all day every day and agreeing to more and more explicit stuff.
“In the end I felt exhausted and degraded and cancelled my membership.”
However, OnlyFans’ plans to remove sexually explicit content were not made with the safety of women and girls in mind; on the contrary, OnlyFans doubled-down on their support with a Tweet during the week.
Dear Sex Workers,— OnlyFans (@OnlyFans) August 21, 2021
The OnlyFans community would not be what it is today without you.
The policy change was necessary to secure banking and payment services to support you.
We are working around the clock to come up with solutions.#SexWorkIsWork
OnlyFans decision was driven purely by self-interest for their financial position, and while they may remove explicit content for now, they’ve given a clear signal on their intention to bring it back as soon as possible.
In a statement, OnlyFans said the "sexually explicit" content ban was to comply with the requests of its banking partners and payment providers.
"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," OnlyFans said.
It said it would allow creators to post content containing nudity if it was consistent with OnlyFans’ policies.
VP of the US-based National Centre on Sexual Exploitation, Haley McNamara, said that “credit card companies are growing increasingly conscious of their own potential legal exposure if they are accused of facilitating sex trafficking or the spread of child sexual abuse material”.
It is the same financial issue faced by pornography giant Pornhub, who have recently become embroiled in lawsuits from victims of sex trafficking, child sexual abuse and rape.
The financial sector placing pressure on these sites is a net positive, but more needs to be done to ensure the safety of women and girls becomes a priority.
These sites take advantage of vulnerable women who feel trapped in this work. We need more awareness of the harms caused by pornography and sexually explicit material, when it comes to the women who engage in them, the men who consume them, and the society that has normalised such harmful behaviour.
It is not good enough that money and legal claims are the main concern while real people are exploited and abused.
**Edit: Less than a week after first announcing the policy change, OnlyFans has since backflipped on its decision to ban sexually explicit material on its platform, saying it has "secured assurances necessary to support [its] diverse creator community" from banks and payment service providers.**
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