OnlyFans reverses decision to ban explicit content

26 Aug 2021

Image: © wachiwit/Stock.adobe.com

The Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland welcomed the decision, citing it as a recognition of ‘the shock and fear our community felt’.

Subscription content service OnlyFans has “suspended” its plan to ban sexually explicit content from 1 October.

In a tweet, the company thanked the public “for making your voices heard”.

Future Human

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

The company, which had said last week that it was compelled to make its original decision “to comply with the requests” from financial partners, did not say if the suspension would be permanent.

In a follow-up email to content creators, OnlyFans said the policy change was “no longer required, due to banking partners’ assurances that OnlyFans can support all genres of creators”.

In a statement, the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland (SWAI) welcomed the move, saying “this reversal is due to the sex work community rallying and ensuring that the shock and fear our community felt was heard”.

Aoife Bloom, a member of SWAI’s board, noted that creators of explicit content, especially during the pandemic, had been responsible for much of OnlyFans’ growth.

“Sex workers are familiar with exclusion from financial platforms,” Bloom continued. “PayPal … has closed the accounts of sex workers and refused to pay out the remaining balance.”

Bloom also said that being deprived of OnlyFans as a source of income would potentially have forced some sex workers into in-person work and to take risks that they otherwise would not.

“Sex workers are people, it seems we have to remind the world of this. Sex workers are excluded from financial institutions and social media platforms, even when the mantra for the past 18 months has been to stay indoors.”

She concluded by calling for the decriminalisation of all sex work, saying that sex workers are “entitled to work as safely as possible”.

Before the announcement of the ban reversal, OnlyFans founder and CEO Tim Stokely gave an interview to the Financial Times in which he blamed banks that “cite reputational risk and refuse our business”.

He in particular pointed to BNY Mellon for having “flagged and rejected” transactions between the company’s bank and the accounts of content creators, in which BNY Mellon served as an intermediary.

He also said that the UK’s Metro Bank had closed a corporate account belonging to OnlyFans in 2019 with little notice. Stokely did not say what bank or banks the company currently uses.

He also complained that the company had been the target of unfavourable media coverage about “incidents of illegal content”. Stokely claimed that such issues happen much more frequently on mainstream social media platforms.

In the weeks before OnlyFans’ announcement, the site had been the target of a petition led by the US congresswoman who passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, the effects of which have been described as dangerous by American sex workers.

OnlyFans was also the focus of a campaign by the US anti-pornography group the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, founded in 1962 as an organisation known as Morality in Media.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com