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OnlyFans will bar sexually explicit videos starting in October

Subscription-based content service moves to ban pornography after a BBC investigation called into question its age verification standards.

A screenshot of the OnlyFans homepage – Photo: OnlyFans.

The popular subscription service OnlyFans has announced it will prohibit creators from posting content showing sexually explicit conduct on the site starting on October 1.

The London-based company said on Thursday that people will still be able to post nude content on the site, but it will need to be consistent with OnlyFans’ Acceptable Use policy.

The policy, in part, prohibits users from sharing accounts with others, or posting illegal content, such as defamatory, fraudulent items or those that encourage violence or illegal activity.

OnlyFans said the change was brought about due to pressure from banking partners and payment providers, reports BBC News.

“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,” the company, which boasts that it has 130 million users, said in a statement.

Under OnlyFans’ business model, content creators can earn money from users who subscribe to their content — such as videos showing live demonstrations, performer rants about various topics, or, at least until October, pornographic content, including nude photos and videos.

Subscribers are charged a monthly fee for each of their subscriptions. In return for hosting the material, OnlyFans takes a 20% share of all payments.

According to Bloomberg News, the company handled more than $2 billion in sales last year, and is currently on pace to more than double that figure this year.

The social media service became extremely popular during the shutdowns and stay-at-home orders imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among sex workers — for whom the site provided a safe place to earn money without putting themselves at risk — who used the site to generate income by charging their “fans” for access to photos, videos, or other materials.

As it transitions away from sexually explicit content, OnlyFans is trying to position itself as a forum for musicians, fitness instructors, chefs, and celebrities or other online influencers. 

See also: Gay adult film star Billy Santoro removed from JustForFans after saying Black protesters should be shot

The announcement of the ban on pornographic content comes after a BBC News investigation into leaked documents concerning accounts with illegal content. Those internal documents, described as a “compliance manual,” reveal that moderators of the platform were more lenient and gave multiple warnings about illegal content to accounts that were more popular before deciding to shut them down.

Most disturbing were reports that people under the age of 18 had sold explicit videos on the site, despite it being against the site’s policy to share content involving minors. In July, the company’s first monthly transparency report said it deactivated 15 accounts after finding indecent images of children on those accounts.

Critics and child protection experts pointed to the leaked internal documents as evidence that OnlyFans has some “tolerance” for accounts posting illegal content, so long as they are popular. The children’s commissioner for England criticized the site, saying it needed to do more to stop underage users from using fake identification to set up their own accounts.

In response to the BBC’s investigation, OnlyFans said the leaked documents are not “official guidance,” that it does not tolerate violations of its terms of service, and that its systems and age verification go far beyond “all relevant global safety standards and regulations.”

OnlyFans said it will provide additional guidance on its new policy at a later date.

See also:

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