OnlyFans reverses its plans to ban sexually explicit content

OnlyFans reverses its plans to ban sexually explicit content

OnlyFans

Adult content site, OnlyFans has announced it has secured an agreement with its payment processors to reverse its previous plans to ban “sexually explicit” content. 

The London-based content subscription service announced last week it would ban adult material from 1 October. OnlyFans’s more than 130 million users and creators argued that the ban might drive such content underground.

The four-year old company said in a tweet that the plans to ban “sexually explicit” content have now been abandoned. 

“Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard,” the Tweet expressed.

“We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change. OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators.”

For a number of years, the company has indicated an interest in moving beyond adult material towards more general-interest content. 

Before its announcement to ban “sexually explicit” content last week, the company disclosed a new business venture, called OFTV, which would allow users to access the platform’s content on smart TVs. 

On Tuesday, Tim Stokely, chief executive and co-founder of OnlyFans, blamed the company’s financial backers for the ban. 

“The change in policy, we had no choice – the short answer is banks,” Stokely told the Financial Times.

“We pay over one million creators over $300m every month, and making sure that these funds get to creators involves using the banking sector.”

Stokely said that BNY Mellon, an American investment bank, was responsible for flagging and rejecting transfers, while Metro Bank closed the company’s accounts in 2019. 

Last year, Stokely was described by The Sunday Times as “the king of homemade porn”. Before starting OnlyFans, which is owned by the Florida-based Ukrainian-American businessman Leo Radvinsky, he ran the adult performance websites GlamGirls and Customs4U, the latter featuring models who create personalised video clips for paid users.

OnlyFans will need to obey new rules from payment processors including Mastercard, which aim to crack down on abuses such as the non-consensual sharing of sexual images and child sexual abuse material. 

In April, Mastercard announced that requirements for providers of adult content require “documented age and identity verification for all people depicted and those uploading the content” and pre-publication review by platform providers.

Mastercard issued a public statement to its clients: “You might ask: ‘Why now?’”

“In the past few years, the ability to upload content to the internet has become easier than ever. All someone needs is a smartphone and a wifi connection.”

“We are extending our existing Specialty Merchant Registration requirements. The banks that connect merchants to our network will need to certify that the seller of adult content has effective controls in place to monitor, block and, where necessary, take down all illegal content.” 

In the last year, OnlyFans reached a valuation of more than £730 million ($AUD1.38 billion) when subscriber numbers skyrocketed during the global pandemic.    

Amateur creators are drawn to the platform for its comparatively low fees, and the fact that their videos allow them to pocket roughly 80 percent of their earnings. 

Mary Moody, an online sex worker and co-chair of the Adult Industry Laborers and Artists Association, was one of the many content creators who worried that their access to work would be “endangered” if they lost their main source of income.

“This change will put workers on the street who could otherwise afford rent, it will starve the children of sex workers who could otherwise afford to feed them,” Moody told the Guardian last week. “It will force workers currently working remotely online into riskier street-based sex work.” 

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