Sex workers feel ‘rage and betrayal’ as OnlyFans moves to ban ‘sexually explicit’ content

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After building global success off the backs of sex workers, OnlyFans yesterday (August 19) announced it would ban “sexually explicit” content later this year.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg, alongside an official quote which read: “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.”

“These changes are to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers,” another statement issued to XBiz clarified. “We will be sharing more details in the coming days and we will actively support and guide our creators through this change in content guidelines.”

OnlyFans move is a continuation of the ‘Holy War on Porn’

Last December, a New York Times feature led to Visa and Mastercard disallowing Pornhub to process payments on their site. As a result, millions of unverified videos were purged overnight.

In an in-depth article entitled ‘The Holy War on Pornhub’, Playing The Whore author Melissa G Grant suggested that the original New York Times piece was heavily linked to Exodus Cry, a “shady Evangelical group with Trump ties” which campaigns for sex work abolition.

Payment processors have since become a key driving force in the ideological war against sex work, and have put pressure on sites like OnlyFans to comply or lose their services.

Sex workers saw it coming

In the aforementioned statement, OnlyFans indicated more information would be forthcoming for sex workers scared of losing their livelihood.

Yet this hasn’t always been the case. In the summer of 2020, sex workers reported having their accounts deleted en masse, often without payouts. The US-based Adult Performers and Actors’ Guild, essentially a sex worker’s union, were then tasked with helping adult creators recover their accounts.

OnlyFans’ vague wording on “soliciting” was often cited as a reason for deletion, allegedly with no justification. As a result, sex workers were left being made to adhere to guidelines that reportedly weren’t clear in the first place.

Similarly, the recently-released official statement indicated “some nudity would be allowed” despite the sexually explicit content ban, causing confusion as to what will actually change.

Sex worker organisations and activists took to Twitter to express their feelings on the news, which many have been anticipating since the so-called purge of OnlyFans accounts last year.

A search for viable alternatives to OnlyFans

Payment processors have long been a thorn in the side of the adult industry.

As such, a handful of collectives and activists have advised performers start their own mailing lists to keep fans informed on where to buy their content.

There are a handful of sex worker-led alternatives like AdmireMe, FanCentro and JustForFans, although all take varying cuts of performers’ income.

JustForFans is currently the leading alternative, yet founder Dominic Ford has been previously accused of sexual assault and creators have vocally condemned the 30 per cent cut. By comparison, OnlyFans took 20%.

“JustForFans was founded and built by and for sex workers and its staff is 100 per cent comprised of sex workers and people who have been in the porn industry for many, many years,” the company said in a statement, urging OnlyFans users to move over to the platform.

“We are a porn site. That will never change and we have no interest in ‘mainstreaming’.”

It remains to be seen how the announced changes will ultimately pay out, but sex workers are again being forced to deal with instability and stigma.

Whether an alternative site does manage to flourish or not, the seemingly endless war on the porn industry is clearly taking its toll.