OnlyFans ditches sex work ban in abrupt reversal — but creators remain wary
Less than a week after OnlyFans sent shock waves through the adult entertainment industry with an announcement that it would soon be banning pornography from its platform, the company has reversed course, saying it will continue to support explicit content.
“We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change,” OnlyFans tweeted early Wednesday morning, referencing the date on which it had previously said it would begin banning sexually explicit content.
In a separate statement to The Times, a company spokesperson said the proposed policy changes “are no longer required due to banking partners’ assurances that OnlyFans can support all genres of creators.” On Tuesday, OnlyFans founder Tim Stokely told the Financial Times that the initial decision to ban porn had been forced by banks repeatedly flagging and rejecting wire transfers related to the platform’s payment of sex workers.
Mary Moody — co-chair of the grass-roots Adult Industry Laborers and Artists Assn. and a sex worker herself — attributed the reversal to “sex workers using their voices to speak out” and, in a statement, urged financial institutions to give sex worker-led organizations a seat at the table.
She also called on U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and her own representative, Brad Sherman (D-Northridge), “to get involved on behalf of their constituents who would not have been able to afford rent before this ban was suspended.”
“With banks and credit card companies’ discrimination unmasked,” Moody said, “our representatives can’t ignore us any longer.”
Sex workers flock to internet platforms, seeking a safe place to earn a living, only to be kicked off. With OnlyFans banning them, many consider alternatives.
The now-reversed ban would have posed a serious financial and logistical crisis for the many sex workers who make their living on the platform, which allows them to circumvent porn studios and other intermediaries and sell explicit content directly to consumers, with OnlyFans taking a flat 20% cut of sales.
But they aren’t getting their hopes up yet.
“Creators, myself included, are still pretty skeptical especially at the use of the word ‘suspended,’” said Scarlett Bloom, a porn actor who was able to stop doing mainstream studio porn in Los Angeles after pivoting to OnlyFans. “I think everyone will keep earning on OnlyFans as long as we can, but there’s definitely a higher awareness that we need to be diversifying platforms.”
Bloom added via Twitter: “I’ve spent a lot of time transferring content over to AVN Stars and ManyVids and will continue to do so as well as look into the other member sites creators have been discussing.”
AVN Stars and ManyVids are among the OnlyFans competitors that sex workers said they might move to if OnlyFans did ban explicit content.
Dominic Ford, owner and founder of another competitor, JustFor.Fans, said in an emailed statement that “creators of adult content deserve a website and platform that wants their business and wants to help their community thrive and prosper. OnlyFans has shown it doesn’t care about the adult industry.”
“If they reverse course now,” Ford said, “who is to say they won’t reverse course in another 3 months?”
For OnlyFans critics, the return to business as usual raises a different problem. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, an anti-porn group, said in a statement to The Times that OnlyFans “has chosen to continue its exploitation,” pointing to recent BBC reporting that suggests that the platform inconsistently removes child sex abuse content. (Sex workers have accused the group of using child abuse as an excuse to attack adult entertainment more broadly.)
But even amid all the uncertainty, OnlyFans’ decision to abandon its plans to ban explicit content is still a weight off the shoulders of many adult entertainers.
Savannah Skye, an Orange County sex worker who said she makes the bulk of her income on OnlyFans, said that although the company’s latest statement was vague, allowing porn to stay on the platform could “save a lot of lives and jobs right now.”