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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

OnlyFans backtracks on decision to ban all sexually explicit content


By Sarah Finnan
26th Aug 2021
OnlyFans backtracks on decision to ban all sexually explicit content

OnlyFans has reversed plans to ban all “sexually explicit” content from its website after the decision was met with huge amounts of public backlash.

In an unexpected turn of events, OnlyFans – the website that shot to international fame for the NSFW and often sexually explicit content it gives subscribers access to – recently announced plans to ban all pornographic images and videos from the platform. 

Citing the wishes of financial partners as the key factor in the decision, the team revealed that they would be prohibiting creators from posting material that is not in line with their new guidelines starting this October. 

“OnlyFans will prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually explicit conduct,” the company said in a statement provided to Variety last week. “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.”

According to the initial announcement, creators would reportedly still be allowed to post content containing nudity, providing it was still “consistent” with their “Acceptable Use Policy” – which currently allows nudity except in the case of public nudity recorded or broadcast “from a jurisdiction where public nudity is illegal”. 

However, despite boasting a user base of more than 130 million subscribers, the website found itself struggling to bring on outside investors – irrespective of the well-known fact that sex sells. First started back in November 2016, the popularity of the website exploded during the pandemic when sex workers, influencers and other celebrities relied on it as a way to make money in lieu of other means.

But such increased interest brought plenty of speculation and criticism along with it too. Investors, politicians and members of the general public have all previously expressed worries over the website’s ability to monitor content with issues of underage material appearing online of particular concern.

Initially lauded for how it “changed sex work forever”, the New York Times once described it as “the paywall of porn” – later going on to detail the experiences of several of the platform’s top earners at the time of writing back in 2019. But, you may be surprised to know that it was never intended to be a porn site. In fact, it never mentions the word once in its pitch-deck… something multiple investors have supposedly deemed “disingenuous”. 

Bowing to mounting pressure from banking partners and payment providers, OnlyFans shocked users with the announcement that they would be banning all sexually explicit content from the site… and the public was quick to voice their dismay at the seemingly contradictory move. Dubbing the decision “terrible and puritanical”, California state senator Scott Wiener later pointed out that, “Forcing sex work off of the internet doesn’t make it go away. But it does make it less safe, as sex workers have no choice but to work on the streets, where they face increased risk of violence.” 

Dominic Ford, founder of OnlyFans’ competitor JustFor.fans, echoed much the same thoughts, adding, “The adult industry is sadly used to companies cutting their teeth on the adult market and then abandoning them once they reach critical mass.” JustFor.fans creator Melrose Michaels – an active advocate for sex worker empowerment – blamed financial concerns for being “anti-porn”. 

Pulling in over $2 billion in sales in 2020, OnlyFans is on target to generate almost double that figure this year – all of that with thanks to the platform’s creators, many of whom rely on selling sexually explicit content as a means to survive. Realising that they would effectively kill the business without that constant intake of money, OnlyFans has since reversed the pornography ban – tweeting that they have “secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change”. 

While the decision to backtrack has largely been welcomed by sex workers, some have been less forgiving – and rightly so.

Taking 20% of all users’ intake, the website has been capitalising off adult material since its inception almost five years ago… but their loyalties clearly lie elsewhere and content creators have admitted to feeling untrustworthy of the platform since seeing how quickly owners were willing to betray them.