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  • Writer's pictureElise van Lonkhuijzen

Another chance for OnlyFans?

Introduction

“Welcome to the internet, come and take a seat. Would you like to see the news or any famous women’s feet?” This part of the Welcome to the Internet song, by Bo Burnham perfectly shows how one can find nearly anything on the internet. This is both seen as a great opportunity to share knowledge and information and as a hazard for illegal and/or harmful practices. As with any controversial practice on this planet, there is always at least one party that makes money out of it. In this case, one of those parties is called OnlyFans, a platform that has been in the news quite a lot the last few days. Who they are and why they reached the news will be discussed in this blog.


What is OnlyFans?

OnlyFans is an online platform that has two categories of users. On the one hand there are those who upload content (mostly photos and videos). On the other hand there are the subscribers who pay money to see what the people they follow have uploaded. There are several categories of content on the platform; music, sports lessons, yoga instructions… but the main type of content is pornographic material. The platform is therefore most known as a platform for pornographic images to which you can subscribe. You can only see those images for which you have paid. There are several types of payment. The most common is to subscribe to a person to see all of their content. Other options are to pay per view, or to pay for a personal interaction such as a private chat. The general subscription fees range anywhere between 5 and 50 USD. This might not seem like a lot, but most users have a wide range of subscribers who provide a steady flow of income every month. OnlyFans itself makes money by selling merchandise, advertisements and taking a 20% cut from all transactions on the platform. The website currently has 130 million users, who generate a yearly turnover of 1.2-2 billion USD.


The good, the bad and the…

The platform has grown rapidly since it was created in 2016. The general feedback of its users is very positive. Especially those who post adult content on the platform feel that it is a safe way to work in the pornography sector, without being exploited. The common feedback is that the content uploaders feel like they are (finally) in charge of what and how they want to show things and get an honest cut from the total income (80%).


The platform saw an enormous increase in users and uploaders during the Covid-19 pandemic with its lockdowns. Many people turned to the platform to generate income after their old job could not provide for them anymore. The increase was not just caused by sex-workers but also by musicians and fitness gurus. However, this increase also had a darker side. Many of the OnlyFans users promoted their business on the platform TikTok, which is primarily aimed at minors. OnlyFans has the policy that minors are not allowed to use it, however, enforcement is difficult. This issue received a lot of negative backlash.


A new direction?

This summer, OnlyFans released the statement that sexually explicit content will be banned from the website from October onwards. Many Fans were shocked as this is currently the biggest source of income for the platform. OnlyFans explained that they wanted to choose a new image for the platform in order to meet the pressure they received from banking partners and payment providers They also said they wanted to attract new investors with the strategy. OnlyFans wanted to focus more on music, cooking and fitness instructions in order to ensure “long-term sustainability of the platform”. Besides the many memes this decision brought forth, many sex-workers who use the platform as their main source of income, felt like they were being abandoned.


All this backlash was not in vain, as the voices of the platform users were heard. On the 25th of August 2021, OnlyFans announced that the ban had been lifted. The sudden change was further explained in an interview given by the platform’s CEO. He said that the feedback encouraged their banking partner to drop the requirement of a different type of content and that OnlyFans will keep supporting all genres of creators.


The power of the internet

This is a perfect example of how big the power of the internet is. The internet is used by many different people, with many different backgrounds and ideologies. They might not always agree with one another, however, when they all stand together and claim their right to see and make pornography, even the strict banking partner with his classic tie, has to bow to the will of the people.


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