OnlyFans is a London-based content sharing platform. It is a subscription-based website where creators offer photos, videos, and even one-on-one chats for a price. It was launched in 2016 and is continually growing.. Creators keep 80% of their revenue, while OnlyFans takes a cut of 20% as service fees.
OnlyFans’ popularity skyrocketed during the pandemic. It saw a surge in users from less than 20 million to 130 million registered users and over 2 million creators with transactions increasing sevenfold to $2.36 billion. High-end profiles and celebrities like Bella Thorne and Cardi B have used the platform to promote and sell exclusive content to their fans.
OnlyFans is not designed to be used for adult content. It just evolved into a hub for everything adult – and more. This is a result of clubs and venues closing down due to pandemic restrictions. Adult content creators see this as a new stream of income.
However, on August 19, the subscription-based social network OnlyFans caused quite a commotion with its announcement of banning sexually explicit content starting from October. Ironically, what the platform aimed to ban was precisely the kind of content it is most known for… triggering some head-scratching for some, and quite a panic for others.
With millions of users looking to OnlyFans for homegrown adult content, many raised their concerns, calling the platform to rethink its decision. Six days later, the company reversed its ban on sexual content. And co-founder Tim Stokely gave an interview that pins the blame on partner banks refusing to work with them.
Why do we even need to care about the banks?
So, why did OnlyFans decide to ban the type of content that had come to define its platform? In an interview with the British site’s founder and CEO, Tim Stokely, he said that “the short answer is banks”.
While we don’t normally correlate the image of bankers with well-tailored suits and manicured hair to the homegrown, raunchy, and sometimes explicit content creators that found a home in OnlyFans, these content creators rely on bank services to be able to access their earnings. So when the banks put pressure on the platform to ban content that shows, promotes, advertises, or even refers to sex, that’s when things went south for OnlyFans.
After causing confusion and frustration among its adult content creator community, it seems like OnlyFans have already sorted things out. On August 25, a few days later after the interview, the company tweeted a statement suspending its initial decision. They reassured their users that things are in place to support their diverse community.
Were bridges already burned?
OnlyFans, while acknowledging the diverse content on its platform, blatantly turns a blind eye on the well-established fact that most of their users post content that’s sexual in nature. To appeal more to conservative investors, OnlyFans advertises more of their food and fitness content creators. This resulted in thousands of content creators on OnlyFans raising their brows.
For some, the initial policy change was the last straw. Despite the follow up announcement that OnlyFans won’t push through with it, some users have decided to leave anyway. It’s even pointed out that while they said they would be suspending their decision, it’s no assurance that they won’t proceed with the ban at a later point in the future. It seems that people interpret this move to mean that the company only did it because of the huge backlash that went with the ban. We can’t be sure of what happened behind closed doors in the platform’s headquarters. But regardless, we can be sure that the damage has already been done.
On the flipside, the more optimistic and forgiving users advocate for the platform pointing out that in the end, they still need it to conduct their business. Like what Stokely said, it was because of the banks, not them.
Both are valid points. So it all boils down to trust: Can content creators trust OnlyFans to have their back when the next external pressure comes in? Some say yes. Some would rather not take chances.
Where do we go from here?
One good thing we can say that came from this entire uproar is that the spotlight was put on other platforms that can be a second home for adult content creators. With so many alternatives voicing out their support for the adult entertainment industry, content creators now have more options to choose from.
Now, people are looking not just at OnlyFans, but also Fansly, Alua, JustForFans, and so much more. Hopefully, this will make the entire space more competitive, putting the adult content creators’ interests first.
As for content creators, they don’t have to stick to just one platform—and they don’t.