Changes are coming to subscription service OnlyFans which will ban all “sexually explicit” content from October, in order “to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers.”
“OnlyFans will prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually explicit conduct,” the company said in a statement.
“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 site also said that creators will only be allowed to post content containing nudity if it complies with their Acceptable Use Policy.
According to Axios, OnlyFans has struggled to find venture capital funding partly due to investor concerns about the X-rated content on the site.
The move comes just a few days after the company launched OFTV — a free streaming service that doesn’t include any sexually explicit content, but rather original fitness, cooking, comedy, health, and music content from its creators.
The service, which was founded in 2016, has previously not been available on mobile app platforms including iOS and Android due to the high volume of sexual content on the site. It has not yet been confirmed if the new rules around the platform will result in it being available on mobile.
The news of the impending changes at OnlyFans was met with derision from many people who cited the hypocrisy of a company building its entire platform on profiting from sex workers, only to now exclude them from participating on the site.
“If you make safe-for-work content on Only Fans, I would suggest moving to another platform,” one social media user wrote. “Make it known that kicking the sex workers who built the site off it will destroy its profitability.
If you make safe-for-work content on Only Fans, I would suggest moving to another platform. Make it known that kicking the sex workers who built the site off it will destroy its profitability.
— Diana ➡️ Occasionally Awarewolf (@Superdillin) August 19, 2021
The platform — which has reportedly paid out more than USD $5 billion to creators worldwide — has given many sex workers the opportunity to make good money (20% of which goes to the company), with several saying the site has given them financial freedom.
One creator has disclosed that she had been able to make more than USD $1million by uploading adult content to the site – although this is very much a minority experience.
Axios reports that around 16,000 creators earn at least USD$50,000 annually from the site — just $3,490 less than the average American salary for full-time work.
In the wake of the pandemic, OnlyFans also offered sex workers — or anyone who found themselves struggling financially — a safe and lucrative way to earn money. The site has previously been applauded by some for democratising sex work by allowing adult content creators to effectively run their own businesses.
“This will also force sex workers into more dangerous situations where they do not have autonomy,” argued one Twitter user.
“Come on OnlyFans, you haven’t thought this through. And you will lose a load of revenue.”
This will also force sex workers into more dangerous situations where they do not have autonomy. Come on @OnlyFans you haven't thought this through. And you will lose a load of revenue.
— Steph Powell (@StephPowell17) August 19, 2021
“Only Fans built their platform off the back of sex workers to then only bail on them and sell out for corporate banks,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“Sex work has been around since the beginning of time and needs to stop being demonized.”
Only Fans built their platform off the back of sex workers to then only bail on them and sell out for corporate banks. Sex work has been around since the beginning of time and needs to stop being demonized.
— Mark (@Darth_MarkyMark) August 19, 2021
Activist Raquel Willis Tweeted her disgust at the situation, writing, “‘Til you do right by sex workers, everything you even think about gonna fail.
“It’s so disgusting how social media platforms like Only Fans and Tumblr continue to fail sex workers who often contribute the content with the most engagement.”
‘Til you do right by sex workers, everything you even think about gonna fail.
It's so disgusting how social media platforms like Only Fans and Tumblr continue to fail sex workers who often contribute the content with the most engagement.
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) August 19, 2021
Willis was one of many people who compared the company’s decision to ban pornography to that of Tumblr’s, with one Twitter user writing: “I don’t understand what Only Fans thinks people will look at on their app if they ban sex work. Tumblr banned pornography and killed the site. Payment processors trying to dictate morality is… ridiculous.”
Tumblr saw a steep decrease in use after it too banned pornography back in 2018.
I don’t understand what Only Fans thinks people will look at on their app if they ban sex work. Tumblr banned pornography and killed the site. Payment processors trying to dictate morality is… ridiculous.
— roxane gay (@rgay) August 19, 2021
One OnlyFans user told The Hollywood Reporter that the vague way in which the company had announced it was banning “sexually explicit conduct” had also left the creator confused as to what exactly the new rules will be in October and if adult content creators would still be able to send material to paying customers via direct message on the platform.
Another creator told The New York Times, “People are not going to be able to make ends meet. People are going to lose the roofs over their heads.”
In a statement, an OnlyFans spokesperson said: “We will be sharing more details in the coming days, and we will actively support and guide our creators through this change in content guidelines.”