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OnlyFans denies that Bella Thorne prompted new spending restrictions on site

Bella Thorne
Bella Thorne joined OnlyFans earlier this month.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Bella Thorne joined OnlyFans a little over a week ago, raking in more than $2 million on the subscription platform.

That news has not gone over well with the sex workers who make their livelihoods on the social media site. On Twitter, hundreds of OnlyFans performers have decried Thorne’s highly-publicized arrival, arguing that she is taking opportunities from workers who are relying on the subscription-based platform for income during the pandemic. The site — which boasts over 30 million users — has grown in popularity amid the quarantine.

On Thursday, the backlash went into overdrive when some new OnlyFans policies went into effect. The updated rules dictate that no vendor on the site can charge over $50 for pay-per-view content and no user can tip more than $100. Further, some international vendors complained that they now had to wait 30 days to receive payment from the site, when they used to be able to do so far more quickly.

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Because the policy changes coincided with Thorne — a former Disney child star who now acts in indie films, has her own weed line and last year directed a movie for PornHub — joining OnlyFans, many users have publicly blamed her for the shifts. But in a statement, OnlyFans said “any changes to transaction limits are not based on any one user.”

“Transaction limits are set to help prevent overspending and to allow our users to continue to use the site safely,” the statement continued. “We value all of the feedback received since this change was implemented and we will continue to review these limits.”

Jenna Foxx, who has been selling content on OnlyFans since 2017, said she didn’t believe the company’s response, calling it a way to “cover their own butt.”

“OnlyFans is a full-time job for some of us, mostly the only income some of us have, when she has movies and other outlets to continue to make money,” said Foxx. “She already is rich — on top of the $2 million she made. She didn’t hurt anyone but the sex community and hasn’t spoken out about it. That’s why we are not okay with what happened.”

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Meanwhile, OnlyFans members have also claimed in recent days that Thorne has scammed users into believing she is nude on the site — referencing a screenshot in which she supposedly promised a naked photo in exchange for $200. Thorne told The Times that she has never offered nudity on her page, and said the exchange floating around on social media was falsified.

In an interview last week, Thorne, 23, said she joined OnlyFans not only for a source of additional income but also to do research for a movie she wants to make with “The Florida Project” director Sean Baker.

“It’s a feature we are researching as I’m living it currently,” Thorne told The Times. “What are the ins and outs? What does a platform like this do to its users? What’s the connective material between your life and your life inside the world of OnlyFans? ... How can it change your life for the worse and the better? How far are you willing to go, and how far do you WANT to go? You can be me, or this talented girl from Montana, and OnlyFans could change your life — if you want it to, of course.”

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Much of the controversy over Thorne’s OnlyFans debut has to do with her research inquiry. Longtime performers say that as a white celebrity, she will not have the same experience as those who face a negative stigma for sex work. And because she amassed a fortune on the platform in such a short period of time, some argue that the general public will get the idea that joining OnlyFans is a way to make quick, easy money, rather than being a full-time means of support.

“By Bella saying this is just an ‘experiment’ or using it for ‘research’ really degrades our work,” said Stephanie Michelle, an L.A.-based performer who has been on the site for two years. “If she wanted to know how sex workers really live, she could have easily shadowed any number of creators working in L.A. full time. Bella herself will ever get the authentic sex worker experience she craves because she is a celebrity. Making millions as a sex worker on your first week is not a universal experience.”

Thorne said she will not be offering nudity on her page, where she charges $20 a month for a subscription. So far, her page has featured photos of her wearing a bikini, smoking marijuana and eating a hot dog. She said she hopes the account can become a place where she shares personal “good night and good morning” messages with fans and offers songwriting classes.


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