OnlyFans Drops Plan to Ban Sexually Explicit Content
(Bloomberg) -- Social-media subscription service OnlyFans Ltd. reversed a decision to ban sexually explicit material, changing course after an uproar from creators and sex workers who had come to rely on the platform as a source of income.
Just last week the site said it would ban explicit content as of Oct. 1, shifting instead to a model that has increasingly relied on helping celebrities connect to their fan bases. That decision was forced in part because of pressure from “banking and payment services,” the London-based company had said.
In a tweet on Wednesday, OnlyFans said it’s “secured assurances necessary” to support its content creators and won’t go through with the previously announced policy change. “OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators,” the company said.
The reversal comes one day after OnlyFans founder Tim Stokely pinned the initial decision on opposition it faced from banking service providers. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. “flagged and rejected” wire payments tied to the company, “making it difficult to pay our creators,” Stokely said in an interview with the Financial Times. The bank declined to comment to the paper.
Sex workers use OnlyFans to sell explicit content to their followers, and celebrities had piled on as a way to sell more traditional photos and videos to their own fan bases.
When the pandemic hit and people were forced indoors, many sex workers who previously earned their living performing in person turned to online shows. The company had planned to allow some nude photos and videos even after the ban, but that left creators questioning where OnlyFans would draw the line between what’s acceptable and what violates its rules.
The company had held talks to raise new funding at a company valuation of more than $1 billion, Bloomberg News reported in June, though it doesn’t need the money. The company is profitable and had been on pace to generate more than $5 billion in sales this year, taking a 20% cut of every payment sent to content creators. A major institutional investor, however, would lend legitimacy to a site increasingly known for adult content.
Now, several sex workers say they are reluctant to trust OnlyFans and would transition to other companies that offer similar services.
“They’ve lost a ton of trust,” said Mia Lily, a 19-year-old who was earning more than $20,000 a month on OnlyFans. “I won’t be going back. Most girls I know aren’t.”
Savannah Solo, 23, has been selling access to content on OnlyFans since January 2020 and regrets not branching out to other platforms. “It’s my only source of income,” she said. “That’s a mistake I won’t be making again. I’ll be using different sites now.”
Even so, the potential opportunity of working on a leading platform in the market may prove too strong to ignore.
One performer who goes by Elle Squishy said there may be no choice, because many clients already have accounts with OnlyFans and might not bother entering all their credit card details in at another site.
“Even if we hate OnlyFans and will always be afraid they’ll pull this again, a lot of us are going to just pick where the money is at,” Squishy said.
Creator Erica Cherry said she would plan to upload all of her clips to another site, ready to promote “at a moment’s notice.” She questioned whether the whole thing was an elaborate stunt to get attention.
“My hope is that the voices of the sex-work community were heard by the banks,” Cherry said. “That would be the best outcome.”
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