OnlyFans porn ban a 'kick in the teeth' for creators

By Kirsty Grant & Shiona McCallum
BBC Newsbeat

  • Published
Tezza from Birmingham uses OnlyFansImage source, Tezza Williams
Image caption,
Tezza Williams has been making thousands of pounds a month from his OnlyFans content

OnlyFans has plenty of cooking tutorials and fitness classes, but it's best known for one thing - porn.

But that's all going to change soon.

The subscription site has announced it will block sexually explicit photos and videos from October - although some nude content will still be allowed.

OnlyFans creators have told Radio 1 Newsbeat the changes are a "kick in the teeth".

'It's given us a living'

Tezza Williams, 22, from Birmingham, started making explicit OnlyFans content with his boyfriend earlier this summer, to repay financial debts he'd racked up.

This month he says he made about £4,000 from the site.

He has another job outside of sex work, but worries for his friends in the industry who don't have a regular income to fall back on.

"If you're not allowed to post really explicit content it's going to be a massive kick in the teeth," he tells Newsbeat.

"There's this massive stigma on sex workers that just should not be a thing.

"We're doing it from the comfort of our own bedrooms, it's given us a living - it could be getting people off drugs, off the streets.

"[Making porn] is helping people and they still want to put bans on it, and [that's] disgusting."

OnlyFans makes its money by taking 20% of all payments made to people like Tezza.

It reported a 75% increase in new creators in May last year - when we were all stuck at home during lockdown. A report into porn by Ofcom also found OnlyFans' site has grown in popularity during the pandemic.

OnlyFans will hope that banning porn will make it more attractive to investors, and that it'll therefore be able to build on its base of 130 million users.

"In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of our platform, and continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines," OnlyFans said in a statement.

'Safety blanket' for sex workers

Liv McClelland, 22, is another of OnlyFans' one million creators who isn't happy to hear about the new restrictions.

Once the new rules come in, she says there's nowhere else she can sell her explicit content.

"It's already quite limiting as it is. With my own content, I don't want to take it anywhere else," Liv, who is also from Birmingham, tells Newsbeat.

She adds that OnlyFans feels like a "safety blanket" for a lot of sex workers, "especially when the content is very intimate and you feel vulnerable anyway".

Image source, Liv McClelland
Image caption,
Liv McClelland says OnlyFans feels like a safe environment for her to post her explicit content

Laura Watson, from the English Collective of Prostitutes, says the changes OnlyFans are making could mean some sex workers feel forced to go out to work in person, which could be more dangerous.

"You can face arrest, you can face big fines, and you can even in some cases face imprisonment," she says.

"This will be pushing women into more riskier situations.

"Sex workers need these online platforms in order to survive."

Liv says she definitely wouldn't meet any of her OnlyFans subscribers in person because "you could be meeting a psycho" and "anything could happen".

"There is no protection for anybody because it is so frowned upon, taboo and isn't considered as a real job," she says.

Liv will delete her content when the porn ban comes into effect, and accept that she'll lose money.

"For me, being a mum, it's gone towards a few bills here and there and it definitely helped.

"I worry about the people that have to now go out and do this stuff in person."

However, another OnlyFans user tells the BBC the announcement is "not a big deal" as there are plenty of other sites that content creators will turn to instead.

"People made money out of porn before OnlyFans," she says.


By Noel Titheradge, BBC News

The platform says it is making the changes to comply with the requests of its banking partners. Payment companies often have strong rules around the type of content being paid for through their services.

The site's ban of sexually explicit content - but not nudity - places it in a tricky position: how will it discern between pornographic images or otherwise?

It's a question many of the site's one million creators will be asking right now.

OnlyFans tells me it'll be publishing new terms of service soon.

There are those who are actively welcoming the announcement.

The Christian charity, CARE, has previously warned that OnlyFans may be fuelling commercial sexual exploitation.

Lauren Agnew, the charity's human trafficking officer, said: "Vulnerable users are at risk of falling victim to human traffickers seeking to groom and exploit them.

"A curb of sexually explicit content could reduce the likelihood of exploitation by making explicit and pornographic content unprofitable. We await further detail from OnlyFans on the substance of new rules."

OnlyFans has come under fire in the past after a BBC News investigation found under-18s had used fake identification to set up accounts on the site.

In June, the BBC found that under-18s sold explicit videos on the site, despite it being illegal for people to share indecent images of children.

After that investigation, the children's commissioner for England said OnlyFans needed to do more to stop underage users. In response to the investigation, OnlyFans said it had closed the accounts flagged and refunded all active subscriptions.

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