OnlyFans creators and sex workers have seen TikTok delete their accounts en masse in recent months for violating the platforms sex and nudity policies, Rolling Stone reports. Of the half a dozen creators the outlet spoke with, all of them said their videos didn’t violate TikTok’s policies and believe they were banned because their bios linked to their OnlyFans accounts, either directly or through a third-party app.
OnlyFans is a subscription-based social media platform where creators charge fans for personal interactions. And while not every creator there makes sexually explicit posts, it’s become a well-known hub for NSFW content. Its popularity exploded in 2020 in large part thanks to TikTok as creators began migrating to the platform to promote their accounts and flex their earnings.
TikTok’s community guidelines forbid users from posting or sharing nude or sexually explicit content, and its rules banning sexual exploitation were recently expanded to include “content that depicts, promotes, or glorifies sexual solicitation, including offering or asking for sexual partners, sexual chats or imagery, sexual services, premium sexual content, or sexcamming.”
But many of the creators Rolling Stone spoke with had their accounts deleted in November, before TikTok updated its guidelines, and regardless they said they didn’t include a direct link to their OnlyFans account on the platform. They instead used third-party apps like Linktree, a landing page that creators use to link to all their social media accounts in one place, including those on more mainstream platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
Ally Hardesty, a sex worker who amassed 40,000 before TikTok pulled her account last month, told the outlet that while she posted NSFW content on OnlyFans, she was mindful about keeping her TikTok videos PG and always dressed in sweatpants or pajamas in her videos.
“I’m always really intentional about keeping lingerie or little outfits or anything I wear on OF separate from TikTok,” she said. “I just liked to do dances with my friends and stuff.”
When her account was deleted along with several other sex workers and OnlyFans creators that month in what one referred to as the “TikTok purge,” she said TikTok cited its policy banning nudity and sexual activities as the reason, even though she hadn’t posted any videos where she was nude or referenced sexual activities. She said she believes TikTok pulled her account because she linked to her OnlyFans in her bio.
“It’s really discouraging that TikTok could just delete our accounts without warning because of what we do on another site that’s unrelated to TikTok,” Hardesty told Rolling Stone.
Another OnlyFans creator, Lydia Love, said “TONS of girls” she knew experienced the same thing around that time. “It was like a huge sweep with no explanation.”
A TikTok representative confirmed to the outlet that “we do not allow content that commits, promotes, or glorifies sexual solicitation or allow accounts that attempt to redirect traffic,” which includes OnlyFans, but declined to comment on why the platform doesn’t flag creators who link to social media platforms that don’t have the same reputation as OnlyFans, like Twitter or YouTube.
The company also didn’t provide an explanation for why it appears to make an exception for creators with larger followings. As of writing this, Bella Thorne, an actress and model with 5 million TikTok followers who recently made headlines for claiming to be the “first” to use OnlyFans before the platform blew up, has a third-party link to her OnlyFans account in her bio and has even been verified on the platform.
A TikTok rep didn’t respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment on this discrepancy but said via email that this purge of TikTok accounts has been part of the company’s ongoing moderation efforts to make the platform safe for its users and pointed to its recently updated community guidelines.