OnlyFans says it wants to help sex workers, but its terms say something else

Late last week OnlyFans announced that it would no longer allow sexually explicit content on its website, citing pressure from its banking and payment partners as the reason for the move.

The fallout from this announcement has been immense as OnlyFans was built to the heights it now occupies on the backs of creators who sold sexually explicit content.

At the weekend, OnlyFans published a statement to Twitter which read: “Dear Sex Workers, The OnlyFans community would not be what it is today without you. The policy change was necessary to secure banking and payment services to support you. We are working around the clock to come up with solutions.”

As you might imagine, this statement wasn’t well received.

“You allowed the news to know before us, then lied and said it’s all rumours and threw it back in our face with the new terms of service,” wrote one user.

“So instead of dropping Visa/MC you chose to drop us, the people who built your platform. You NEVER promoted us, only random fitness instructors and celebrities. WE brought the traffic. And you kicked us to the curb instead of standing up for us against the payment services,” another user wrote.

Taking a look at the OnlyFans terms of service reveals that, while the platform says it wants to help sex workers, it’s making it incredibly hard for them to occupy the platform.

In the older terms of service under it’s acceptable use policy, OnlyFans doesn’t state that sexually explicit content is banned. While there are cautions against posting content that includes firearms, abuse, extreme sexual abuse and the sale of sexual encounters, the rules were what many might describe as acceptable as regards a mainstream platform for sexually explicit content.

Now the acceptable use policy reads as such:

Do not upload, post, display, or publish Content on OnlyFans that shows, promotes, advertises or refers to ‘sexually explicit conduct’, which means:

actual or simulated sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, between persons of any sex;

actual or simulated masturbation;

any exhibition of the anus or genitals of any person which is extreme or offensive;

actual or simulated material depicting bodily fluids commonly secreted during sexual conduct;

“All existing Content that shows, promotes, advertises or refers to ‘sexually explicit conduct’ must be removed before December 1, 2021, or by any other date which we communicate to Users,” OnlyFans adds.

While OnlyFans says it is working on a solution for the sex workers who made its platform what it is today, it’s terms of service tell a very different story and, unless OnlyFans plans to create a website purely for adult content with its own, independent terms of service, we aren’t sure creators will stick around.

Even if it does that though, a report from the BBC, released shortly before OnlyFans announced the sexual content ban gives us pause. In that report it is alleged that OnlyFans doesn’t act as quickly as it ought to when content which violates its terms of service is discovered.

As we discussed in last week’s Africast, this mess is OnlyFans’ own doing and it is unfortunate that those who have carved out a living for themselves now have to suffer because of the platform’s alleged inability to police itself.

While OnlyFans has spent a long time trying to shed its reputation as a source for adult content, whether the platform will enjoy the same revenue from the likes of instructors and influencers as it did from sex workers is unclear, but we’re doubtful.


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