26 August 2021


In case you haven't been following the OnlyFans controversy (I have occasionally included links about it in the link round-ups), here's what it's about.  OnlyFans is a UK-based platform on which content creators can post pictures, videos, etc which are accessible to users who pay for access -- that is, it enables content creators to make money from their content, so long as they have a fan base willing to pay.  The platform has two million content creators and 130 million users (source).  In practice it's largely used by, and identified with, providers of sexually-oriented material; some sex workers, finding conventional prostitution too dangerous during the pandemic, have turned to OnlyFans as an alternate way of generating income.

On August 19 OnlyFans management announced that, as of October 1, most sexually-explicit material would be banned.  This extraordinary plan -- which would eliminate the platform's predominant and most lucrative form of content, effectively corporate suicide -- was originally widely attributed to pressure from "payment processors" (credit-card companies), which in turn were being harassed by fundies hoping to purge sexually-oriented material from the internet.  Whatever the reason, the decision provoked a huge backlash from users, content providers, and the internet generally.  It exemplified a pattern of platforms growing large and lucrative from the work of sexual-content creators, then turning against them in an effort to seem "respectable", sometimes in order to attract advertisers.

Just yesterday, OnlyFans reversed course and canceled the ban.  Its content providers remain wary (scroll down), especially since the company initially said the ban had only been "suspended".  However, it seems clear that they've backed down in the face of the backlash, as Google Blogger did in 2015 after a similar blunder and backlash, and as Tumblr notoriously failed to do in 2018, to its considerable detriment.

It's still not entirely clear who was ultimately to blame for the short-lived ban -- credit-card companies, banks, religious nuts, bluenoses in OnlyFans management itself, or whoever -- and restoring trust will take time.  Still, this serves as a reminder of the power that creators and a customer base can wield, when they choose to do so.  There will always be efforts at censorship of one kind or another, by companies or governments, pushed by right-wingers or left-wingers or fundies or Islamists or wokesters or whomever.  But we can fight back against them or work around them.  We can beat them.  We will beat them.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

From my point of view, the blow came from the Christofascists and ignorant lawmakers (also see SESTA-Fosta). The wingnuts have been trying to chip away at anything that looks like sex for them, that's not new. They've gone for the porn tubes and are coming for pornhub.
OnlyFans also wanted to expand to more 'respectable' ventures and threw sex workers under the bus after they made the platform profitable. Also, nothing new. I'd wait and see. Without sex workers OnlyFans is an expensive TikTok and it'll go the way of Tumblr (which also turned on sex workers and queer content creators).


26 August, 2021 05:29  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I remember reading about all the damage SESTA-FOSTA did. The religio-wingnuts are constantly coming up with ways of pushing sex workers back into older, more dangerous ways of doing business.

I guess it dawned on OnlyFans that driving out the NSFW material would lead to the opposite of "expansion".

.....and queer content creators

It is noticeable how they target that. During the great Tumblr tumble-down, people said that even innocuous gay material like a drawing of two fully-clothed women kissing -- not remotely pornographic -- would get deleted by the management.

26 August, 2021 07:39  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

It's heartening to know that the "Davids" can beat the "Goliaths".

26 August, 2021 09:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with @SixpenceNotthewiser that much of this debacle is cuased by the right wing war on sex.

I also think it was also triggered by leadership at OnlyFans who wanted a bigger payday. If they got more funding they could expanded their wallets. To get more funding meant they needed to pacify the right wing creditcard bankers, which meant ditching sex workers.

26 August, 2021 10:23  
Blogger Mike said...

Onlyfans had a takeover attempt by capitalists.

26 August, 2021 10:49  
Blogger Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Thank you for this info, Infidel. I didn't know about it, but picked up on a buzz. I mean, if OF was to ban sexual content, they should just drop the site altogether. But I think it's great, and it goes a long way towards legitimatizing sex work. I hope they stick with their premise, despite advertisers/funders threats. It always seems that when something is incredibly lucrative, forces of greed and power try to destroy it.

26 August, 2021 11:30  
Blogger Daal said...

I totally agree with your point that we do indeed have power as consumers. Too many people throw their power away...

27 August, 2021 14:06  

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