OnlyFans says that starting in October, it will prohibit “content containing sexually-explicit conduct.” The sex workers who helped make the site what it is want answers.
On Thursday afternoon, OnlyFans casually announced it would be devastating the livelihoods of users who helped turn the platform into a dominating force of the creator industry: no more porn.
The news came hot on the heels of an illuminating Axios report, where sources said that the wildly popular subscription-based platform couldn’t secure outside investors, who were reportedly hesitant to get into business with the company due to the explicit content hosted on its platform.
Already, OnlyFans is on track to have a net revenue of $1.2 billion this year, which is expected to double to $2.5 billion in 2022, with two million creators uploading content and 130 million registered users across the world. But the firm reportedly wants to be taken more seriously, and with the help of clean-cut investors with deep pockets, it could partially buy out porn baron Leonid “Leo” Radvinsky, who holds a majority stake in the company.
So, hours after Axios hinted at its troubles securing investors, OnlyFans dropped the crushing news that starting in October, it will “prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually-explicit conduct.” While users will still be allowed to upload nude content, it must be compliant with OnlyFans’ new policy, which hasn’t been made public.
“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 provided to The Daily Beast. “Creators will continue to be allowed to post content containing nudity as long as it is consistent with our Acceptable Use Policy. These changes are to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers.”
The decision to pull the rug out from millions of creators who have helped put OnlyFans on the map, many of whom left their full-time jobs to pivot to making content full-time, is a slap in the face, OnlyFans creator Zia told The Daily Beast.
When the 23-year-old first heard the news, she was stunned, explaining that OnlyFans is her main source of income. “Sex workers made OnlyFans what it is today,” she said, adding that she is planning to move all her content over to Frisk. “What a bunch of pricks. They hoed us.”
“It’s just mind-boggling,” OnlyFans creator Meredith Jacqueline added. “It’s like, y’all hate porn that much that you’re willing to give up money? Because if it were me, I like money more than I hate a lot of things.”
It truly is baffling why OnlyFans would discard the same creators who earned the site its prominence. If it wasn’t for a boom of sex workers and creators turning to the site to make ends meet when the pandemic hit last March, with 3.5 million new signups, 60,000 being creators alone that month, Beyoncé would have never name-dropped it in the “Savage” remix with Megan Thee Stallion, nor would it have become a household name.
But OnlyFans has never fully embraced its core creators, although it has always been happy to collect up to 20% of their earnings. A quick glance at its Instagram feed shows that the company heavily features DJs, fitness trainers, musicians, makeup artists, and chefs, rather than the models and sex workers who are commonly associated with the platform.
“I see a lot of OnlyFans pushing non-sex work creators,” Meredith Jacqueline said. “It’s clear what they’re trying to do. It’s clear they’re trying to rebrand and stuff. But they’re not going to make up for all the money that they made on the back of sex workers.”
“It’s really just like sex workers are asked to run from one platform to another constantly,” she added, pointing to how Tumblr’s valuation dropped from $1 billion to $3 million after it wiped explicit porn from its site. “We never just have a safe place to do our jobs… It’s obvious that this is bad for business.”
“It’s super unfair,” OnlyFans model Tess added. “They basically want all the influencer girls on there to post Instagram content and make $50K a month. It’s sad. A lot of adult entertainers rely on OnlyFans and were finally making the money they deserved.” The only thing she can hope for, Tess said, is that in OnlyFans’ absence, a new platform will take its place and finally treat sex workers with the respect they’ve earned.
Many are concerned that OnlyFans will also suddenly change its stance on nudity entirely; Meredith Jacqueline wondered how OnlyFans will draw the line of what nudity is considered “sexually explicit.”
“We’ve seen this before on Tumblr and Instagram, that a thin white woman’s body is considered art, but a trans woman’s body or a fuller-figured woman’s body or a Black woman’s body are inherently sexual,” she said. “So, where’s the checks and balances there?”
“It’s exhausting to kind of be on eggshells all the time,” Meredith Jacqueline added. “And in this industry, there is a certain accepted risk of, ‘This is not going to last forever, and I need to be prepared for that,’ but it shouldn’t be because my hosting platform is going to pull the rug out from under me at any moment’s notice because they want to appeal to investors.”