What is OnlyFans, why is it banning ‘sexually explicit’ content, and which celebrities are on it

OnlyFans, a subscription-based social media platform known for adult content, says it will ban “sexually explicit” content from October 1.

Here's the reason why, plus all you need to know about OnlyFans.

What is OnlyFans?

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Founded by tech entrepreneur Timothy Stokely in 2016, OnlyFans is a content-sharing platform which allows “creators” to share content with subscribers.

OnlyFans will ban “sexually explicit” images and videos from October 1, the online subscription service has announced.

It is popular with adult entertainment stars who share X-rated pictures and videos with fans, though celebrities and influencers also use the site.

Which celebrities use it?

A whole host of A-list celebrities have joined OnlyFans since its launch, among them rapper Cardi B, Drag Race winner Shea Couleé, Love Island’s Megan Barton-Hanson and singer Chris Brown.

Actress Bella Thorne says she earned two million dollars (about £1.5 million) in less than a week after signing up for an OnlyFans account.

The former Disney Channel star, 22, joined the subscription-only social media platform in early August and charges users 20 dollars a month (about £15) to access her page.

What are the changes to OnlyFans?

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OnlyFans will ban “sexually explicit” images and videos from October 1.

Under new guidelines, people will still be able to post nude content on the site, but it will need to be consistent with the company’s updated policies.

The London-based company said in a statement: “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.”

Why is OnlyFans making these changes?

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The BBC says the change comes after the broadcaster approached the company over concerns about its handling of accounts posting illegal content.

According to a BBC investigation, content moderators for the platform are told to give multiple warnings to accounts that post illegal content before the site decides to close them, and it claims that staff are asked to be more lenient towards successful accounts on the service.

The investigation also claims to have seen a number of examples of banned content on the site and says it was told by moderators that prostitution services have been found advertising on the platform.

How did OnlyFans respond?

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OnlyFans told the BBC it does not tolerate violations of its terms of service, and its systems and age verification go far beyond “all relevant global safety standards and regulations”.

Why are sex workers unhappy?

Sex worker and former OnlyFans user Tilly Lawless has said the ban on sexually explicit content was “awful” because it would push those working in the sex trade who used the platform to other, less safe, spaces.

Lawless said many sex workers used the platform, particularly during lockdown, as a vital source of income.

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She told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I understand why they’re doing it from a financial perspective – they now have the platform they wanted, they can kick sex workers off now they’ve got influencers on it, they’ve got celebrities on it, they’ve got fitness people on it.

“They don’t need sex workers like they did when they started.

“But I can’t understand it from a wiping out (sex) trafficking perspective, because getting rid of platforms like this, none of that actually stops people in dangerous scenarios, it actually just makes it harder for sex workers who are using those platforms to work safely.”

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