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OnlyFans suspends plan to prohibit porn after backlash from sex workers

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OnlyFans logo displayed on a phone screen and a laptop's web browser.

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OnlyFans today said it has suspended its plan to prohibit sexually explicit content. The company had faced days of backlash from the sex workers who helped OnlyFans become a success, only to see the site announce a change that would dramatically reduce their income.

Less than a week ago, OnlyFans announced that it would “prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually explicit conduct” starting October 1 but continue to allow nudity. OnlyFans said it was making the change “to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers,” which have faced pressure from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), an anti-pornography group that lobbied financial companies to stop processing payments for OnlyFans. The UK-based OnlyFans was also pressured into action by a BBC investigation that found some children were able to bypass the online platform’s age-verification system.

Despite those developments, OnlyFans said on Wednesday that it will be able to continue processing payments from subscribers to creators who post sexually explicit photos and videos. In a tweet, OnlyFans wrote:

Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard.

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.

Creators worry reprieve is not permanent

OnlyFans creators pointed out in Twitter replies that announcing a suspension of the policy change is no guarantee that it won’t be implemented at a later date. Some discussed moving from OnlyFans to other platforms, while others, including one woman who said she has lost 500 subscribers since OnlyFans announced it would ban sexually explicit content, called for a reduction in the fees that OnlyFans charges to creators.

We asked OnlyFans today whether it expects the suspension to last indefinitely and whether it will make any other policy changes short of banning sexually explicit content. We also asked for information on how the company secured assurances from payment providers. We’ll update this article if we get a response.

OnlyFans didn’t provide more details on its Twitter feed but wrote that an “official communication to creators will be emailed shortly.” The company told CNN and other news organizations that the planned “changes are no longer required due to banking partners’ assurances that OnlyFans can support all genres of creators.”

OnlyFans previously said it “had no choice”

On August 21, OnlyFans had told creators that the October 1 ban was a necessity, writing:

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.

#SexWorkIsWork

Even yesterday, a Financial Times article quoted OnlyFans founder and CEO Tim Stokely as saying, “The change in policy, we had no choice—the short answer is banks.”

According to the Financial Times, “Stokely claimed OnlyFans had been unfairly targeted by media reports into ‘incidents of illegal content’ that failed to mention how porn-free social media platforms grappled with similar issues. ‘Banks read the same media as everyone else,’ he said.”

Mastercard in April announced that stricter rules for merchants in the adult-content industry would take effect on October 15 “to prevent the distribution of illegal adult content across the network.” But it apparently wasn’t a credit-card company problem for OnlyFans, as Stokely told the Financial Times that “we’re already fully compliant with the new Mastercard rules, so that had no bearing on the decision.” He blamed the policy change on “increasingly unfair actions by banks and media companies.”

Stokely also said, “We didn’t make this policy change to make it easier to find investors” and that OnlyFans would “absolutely” allow porn again if the banking problem could be solved. OnlyFans announced the reversal about 24 hours after the interview with Stokely was published.

NCOSE to continue pressure campaign

OnlyFans will continue to face pressure to block sexually explicit content. NCOSE VP Haley McNamara said today that “OnlyFans has chosen to continue its exploitation” and that “NCOSE remains steadfast in holding OnlyFans accountable for enabling abuse and exploitation, and we reiterate our call on the Department of Justice to join the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in investigating this platform.”

That group’s fight against OnlyFans will be countered by sex-worker advocacy groups. Sex Workers Alliance Ireland said it welcomes the change announced today and that the “reversal is due to the sex work community rallying and ensuring that the shock and fear our community felt was heard.”



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