Personal Growth

OnlyFans bans sexually explicit content, hurting sex workers

Starting in October, OnlyFans will prohibit sexually explicit content on its site—the very content that made the platform a household name in the first place.

“In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of our platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines,” OnlyFans said in statement to Bloomberg.

As Axios reported, OnlyFans has had issues getting investors on board due to the site’s largely explicit content. It’s just one of the many issues facing companies that host and/or facilitate the monetization of adult content, in addition to the threat of redlining from payment services, and navigating the controversial laws Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, collectively known as FOSTA-SESTA, which many consider a crackdown on sex workers.

However, when Fast Company spoke with OnlyFans CEO Tim Stokely back in March, he remained bullish on OnlyFans continuing to host adult content.

“We pride ourselves, and have from day one, on having some of the most liberal content [policies] as to not censor or filter the voices and the content of our creators,” he said. “We really welcome the diversity on the platform. That’s not something that’s going to change.”

To be sure, OnlyFans’ new guidelines may leave some room for soft-core content. But it’s clear that the company’s recent announcement will be yet another purge of already marginalized sex workers, many of whom saw this coming a mile away.

OnlyFans’ rise coincided with Patreon changing its guidelines around certain kinds of adult content in 2017. Those changes led to many sex workers getting deplatformed, which paved the way for OnlyFans, launched in 2016, to become the go-to hub for monetizing explicit adult content. However, many sex workers have feared exactly what OnlyFans is doing now because it’s happened so frequently in the past, not only with Patreon, but also Tumblr and Reddit.

“The problem is adult content is always under the microscope,” said Vex Ashley, an adult filmmaker and artist who was booted from Patreon and migrated to OnlyFans. “And [for OnlyFans] that unfortunately means the higher you rise, the further you have to fall.”

She added, “You’re essentially just waiting for the Sword of Damocles to fall on your head.”

In a way, OnlyFans telegraphed the swing of its sword by making a push into the VOD space with OFTV, an app and streaming platform scrubbed clean on any NSFW content. But, with this recent announcement, it’s clear that OnlyFans sees a full cleanse of explicit content as its only way to grow.

That said, it remains to be seen if the move will give OnlyFans the growth it seeks, or if removing its foundation of sex workers will cause the company to crumble.



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