Will OnlyFans really stop selling porn?

·2-min read
 (Handout)
(Handout)

On the surface, OnlyFans blocking “sexually explicit content” on its site is good news, but years of campaigning against the sex trade has left me sceptical.

OnlyFans is driven by profit, and most of that profit comes from porn. The proposed changes are to appease bankers and major shareholders, and not the women it harms. “These changes are to comply with the requests of our banking partners and pay-out providers,” reads the statement on its website.

Why would they risk losing such a large chunk of their income? Could it be to preserve their profit? I can’t imagine a conversion in which the executives suddenly realise that the site has become just another platform for pornography. Despite being marketed as an edgy Instagram, it’s clear that OnlyFans was never going to make profit from selling handbags.

Whatever the new rules, there will be loopholes big enough to jump through. When credit card companies briefly banned payments to Pornhub last year when the fact that it was hosting “revenge porn” was exposed, it deleted 10 million videos. Although this appeared to be a positive move, in fact it resulted in little difference. Pornhub simply changed enough of the rules regarding who was allowed to upload content but much material containing abuse and exploitation can still be found on the site.

Perhaps OnlyFans will restrict what is allowed in terms of who can feature in the films, but I doubt it will be quick to lose income from high-paying customers who request particular pornographic content.

An OnlyFans moderator told the BBC that he has found illegal and extreme content in videos, including violence, use of weapons and animal abuse, despite such content being prohibited under their rules. Then there is the content lifted from other sites that finds its way on to the platform. He admitted that bosses criticised him for “over-moderating”. OnlyFans is not going to start selling videos of kittens and will not, unless forced, change from being yet another porn site to something less explicit.

One clever marketing ploy used across the sex trade is sanitisation. Sex trafficking becomes “migration for sex work”, pornography is labelled “erotica” and pimps become “businessmen”. It is all about money, and women are the collateral damage.

OnlyFans was created to provide men with made-to-measure porn. The so-called acceptable use policy on the site will make little or no difference to exploiters and predators. Those who make money from exploiting vulnerable women are not nice people.

Removing pornographic content is a positive move, but OnlyFans needs to be moderated to the point where it becomes more trouble than it is worth to sell sex. Women’s bodies should never be for sale.

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