Well, well, well. Pornographers chase the almighty dollar and the moment it is challenged they do what any businesspeople do, they change direction. Usually that means to some other means of selling, but in this case, it involves self-censorship and for those who have followed the explosion of OnlyFans in the last years, today is a day that has been long in the making.
I’ll let the company’s statement speak for itself:
“Effective 1 October, 2021, OnlyFans will prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually-explicit conduct. 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 company said. “Creators will continue to be allowed to post content containing nudity as long as it is consistent with our Acceptable Use Policy.”
So what actually happened? From what I’m able to gather reading early news articles about this change in philosophy, it comes down to banks and credit card companies not wanting to be in the pornography business. Some financial institutions had already banned the site while others would double and triple-check that you wanted to access the material on the site.
Just how big did OnlyFans get?
I never used this site because it wasn’t around when I was an addict, but as a business model, it was brilliant because it put the power into the creators hands while simultaneously exploiting them for profit. OnlyFans tackled the last genre of pornography: sex work from people you know.
“I don’t know anybody who has an OnlyFans page,” you say. Well, you probably do. Unless you’re over 50 and only know people over 50, I can almost guarantee someone you know has put pornographic material for sale on OnlyFans. The creators of this site, much like many porn sites during the pandemic, saw rates of use that were once probably thought impossible.
According to the company, as quoted on Buzzfeed, there are over 2 million content creators worldwide and well over 100 million users. That’s almost tenfold what it was just prior to the pandemic. The article also stated that the site has paid out over $15 billion in revenue. But if you can’t get that money in and out of the company, there’s a problem.
Where does OnlyFans go from here?
First, it’s important to note that nudity is not banned, but sexual imagery will be after Oct. 1. Anybody else wonder how they’re going to go through 2 million content creators pages looking at every photo and video? The company hasn’t released its criteria for what is acceptable or not yet, but if the average creator has 100 photos or videos, that’s 200 million pieces of content that has to be examined. I’m sure there are computers and AI that can identify certain sex acts, or descriptions of sex acts, but this seems impossible.
Who knows what they determine as acceptable nudity? I wonder if they’ve even figured it out yet. Is taking a shower and washing yourself a sex act? Is posing in sexy lingerie? I’m glad I don’t have to answer these questions.
I’ve always thought as an interface, OnlyFans might be perfect for indy artists and musicians. When people ask me to explain OnlyFans, I tell them that it’s like Facebook meets Etsy but instead of crafty stuff, it’s pornography for sale. There are some who sell non-sexual items on there, but this could potentially open up new revenue streams for artists. Still, if the site is offering nudity and is keeping its name, can it ever shed the stigma
A few immediate reactions to this news
First, with the retooling of pornography monolith PornHub last year after the credit card companies cut-off access, I think today’s actions show that these companies will listen when money is involved. Trafficking? Exploitation? Underage people? None of that mattered until their bottom line was going to be effected. I guess it’s more about the end result than how we got there. For all of those people who fight pornography, here is the obvious solution. It’s not about lecturing about morality or social ills. That’s never stopped anyone from looking. You have to get the suppliers where it hurts: their bank accounts.
Second, this is not going to stop pornography and may not even make a dent in how much is watched across the Internet, but it sends a message to every site out there. Organizations like Chase, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, Visa, etc., don’t want to be in the porn business. Hopefully this starts to extend to other sites. I know many sites are talking about using cryptocurrency, but only the hardcore geeks are going to navigate those waters.
Third, I’m curious what happens to the creators and viewers. Can they go from pornography to tasteful nudity? I doubt many of the customers on there are looking for artsy, museum-like nudes. This turn of events will certainly have a negative effect to all those who make money from OnlyFans.
If you’re new to the concept of OnlyFans, or what it did during the pandemic, a couple of articles I’ve written about it are the most searched in the history of this site. If you’d like to check them out you can find them:
Porn Addiction and the Pandemic: Let’s Talk OnlyFans (from April 2020)
Pornography Addiction may No Longer Be Just For the Viewers (from August 2020)
OnlyFans Stats Show Its Here To Stay (from January 2021)
Maybe this will be the last time I have to talk about OnlyFans. Wouldn’t that be nice?