The London-based livestreaming website OnlyFans will begin prohibiting sexually explicit content starting in October, the company said Thursday. The new standards will still permit nudity, provided that creators post in accordance with the site's acceptable use policy.
"Effective 1 October, 2021, OnlyFans will prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually explicit conduct," an OnlyFans spokesperson told CNET. "In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines."
The change is being made at the request of the site's banking partners and payout providers, the spokesperson added.
Founded in 2016, OnlyFans claims over 130 million users and 2 million creators worldwide, but recent reports suggest that the site's status as a popular destination for amateur adult content has made it difficult to attract investors. Earlier this week, the company to help broaden its image as a platform for creators and to align with the policies of popular app marketplaces.
"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," the OnlyFans spokesperson said.
Fight for the Future, an advocacy group for online digital rights and censorship, released a statement in response.
"OnlyFans deplatforming legal sex work is a perfect example of why we need an Internet with less choke-points for censorship," said Lia Holland, Fight for the Future's Campaigns & Communications Director. "Banning sexual content from OnlyFans is not going to make anyone safer—in fact, it will put sex workers in harm's way by eliminating a safer revenue stream for a lot of marginalized folks.
"It is laughable that OnlyFan would call this an "inclusive" move when it literally excludes the primary marginalized community that has been using their services to generate safer, sustainable income since its inception."
Emily van der Nagel, a lecturer at Monash University and co-author of Sex and Social Media, believes the move is a mistake on the part of OnlyFans.
"OnlyFans has missed an opportunity to support sex workers and porn performers by formally welcoming them and proactively working with payment companies that allow adult content," she said, adding that it added further stigma to sex work. "Such a message is harmful for these vulnerable workers, and exacerbates existing harm done by other platforms deciding adult content is too risky to support."
Sex workers and those potentially impacted by the move are holding out hope restrictions don't include them. Many are frustrated that OnlyFans is seemingly set to abandon the sex workers that helped build the platform. Jenna Love, a sex worker and member of the Scarlet Alliance -- an association working towards sex workers rights -- says OnlyFans' decision is unsurprising.
"There is a lot of conflicting information circling at the moment," she said, "but we have seen OnlyFans attempts at becoming more 'mainstream' for a long time. Unfortunately banks and payment processors hold the power in this world and financial discrimination against the sex industry is absolutely rife. While we don't know exactly what this information means for content creators yet, this has the potential to be the latest in a long line of devastating blows to the sex working community."
"The news is not in any way surprising but that doesn't lessen the pain it will cause and the impact it will have on the livelihood of a lot of people," Love said. "But sex workers are a resilient bunch, we are used to adapting to dangerous legislation and discriminatory rules and we will continue to survive and thrive."