OnlyFans: Oops, Just Kidding; Keep Posting Sexually Explicit Material

from the backsies dept

So, last week the news broke that OnlyFans, the wildly popular platform for “subscribing” to private video and photographic content — and whose most popular usecase appears to be for adult content — announced that it was banning “sexually explicit material” in response to difficulty finding investors and payment processors/banks threatening to cut them off (and possibly rejecting too many payments). The whole thing was somewhat confusing because the company did say that nude imagery would still be allowed, just not “sexually explicit,” and I’m sure the guidelines for the company’s content moderation team on that distinction would have been quite something.

Either way, this move lead to an outcry of complaints — led by sex workers who were already quite reasonably pissed off at previous attacks on them via things like FOSTA. And now, OnlyFans has announced that it has dropped the plans to ban such content, and said that it had worked out some sort of agreement with the financial companies who had been causing trouble before:

I’ve seen some people concerned about potential “backlash” to this from moral panicky and grandstanding “morality” police, but if we did everything to make those people happy, we’d shut down a ton of important innovation and creativity.

Still, this does keep some key questions in play about just how powerful a few small financial firms are, and how they can effectively control how other businesses operate. I imagine that conversation is not going away any time soon.

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Comments on “OnlyFans: Oops, Just Kidding; Keep Posting Sexually Explicit Material”

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22 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

regarding moral panicky people.

When you see something trending that is contrary to your values: asking "what can I reasonably do keep myself & family safe and/or in good moral standing?" is a reasonable thing.

However when you start thinking things like "how can I force other people to follow my values"… you start wandering toward the territory of being a monster.

But I guess some groups** of people will be as close to a monster as the law will allow.

** Membership is voluntary.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Thad (profile) says:

Still, this does keep some key questions in play about just how powerful a few small financial firms are, and how they can effectively control how other businesses operate. I imagine that conversation is not going away any time soon.

It’s a complicated question, and ideally I’d like to see it addressed by better competition and antitrust enforcement.

Part of the trouble, though, is government pressure. And even in a market with better competition, or even one where payment processors were treated as utilities and required to provide service for all legal content, I think they’d still be facing pressure from the government. Legislators and law enforcement have a tendency to treat all sex work as if it were human trafficking or child abuse.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, there’s no really easy answer here. Forcing competition in the payment processor market won’t really work, since at some level they’re always going to be beholden to some bottleneck monopoly or duopoly. At some point, there’s direct and unwaiving control over the way currency is handled.

You can bypass this at some level by using crypto, but unless some major switch happens it will not be a method used by any majority of customers. So, pushing it as a currency to use will cause support to be dropped for credit cards and other more popular forms of payment, meaning those processors still have control. Plus, anything needing to transfer crypto to fiat, or using those methods to buy the crypto in the first place will have to go through them as well.

About the best you could hope for could be that they’re treated as a utility and then any government attack on them for supposedly moral reasons be treated as a first amendment violation, but even then they can hedge those attacks as being about dealing with profit from criminal activity (even where that’s not really the case).

Koby (profile) says:

Too Big To Shut Down

There has been a significant outcry since the announcement to limit the content. Perhaps, if the collective outcry of the content producers was loud enough, then the investors and banking service providers realized that any OF shutdown anger could be redirected. That was the assurance they needed that OF cannot be shut down without serious consequences.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Continue to leave OF

Competitors to OF have already been set in motion, partly thanks to the gains of some previous OF clients. I’m sure that many of them will be glad to use a service that is more interested in fighting for sexworker rights than can merely be threatened away by financial institutions.

OF services (from my limited knowledge) seem to be less directed specifically at sex work and more at combating loneliness. The allure of paying is not getting to see some naughty bits but being engaged by the nice girl who has those bits.

It’s another puzzle piece along with FOSTA and the flourishing incel community that our disdain for letting teenagers learn to relate as adults (a centuries old instrument of control) is breaking the society.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

CYAUL: Cover Your Ass Until Later

This is obviously a damage control situation, as OnlyFans likely didn’t dream of so much of the press on this decision being focused on sex workers (and so much of that press being on the side of sex workers). That said, I wouldn’t count this as a victory just yet. Note the wording of this sentence in the tweet:

We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change.

What’s the key word in that sentence? “Suspended”. They didn’t say they no longer had plans to enact the change, only that they’ve suspended the change. This leads me to believe they’ll wait until everyone isn’t looking⁠—or until the tide turns against sex workers somehow⁠—to enact the change.

But even with that pessimism, I do wonder what effect this whole situation had on the payment processors. Did they get spooked by all the pro–sex worker press and back off from being on-board with the OF policy change? Are they staying silent because they don’t want to be labelled as anti–free speech? That should be an angle explored by the press from here on out.

I welcome the news, but I do so with caution. This fight isn’t over yet.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Thad (profile) says:

Re: CYAUL: Cover Your Ass Until Later

What’s the key word in that sentence? “Suspended”. They didn’t say they no longer had plans to enact the change, only that they’ve suspended the change. This leads me to believe they’ll wait until everyone isn’t looking⁠—or until the tide turns against sex workers somehow⁠—to enact the change.

I suspect a whole lot of shareholders are looking for a way to cash out and let somebody else be in charge (and lose their shirts — er, so to speak) when that happens.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Exactly. Trust, much the same as credibility, is like a spinal cord: It takes only a second to sever it, and if you ever regain function, you’ll never be the same. OnlyFans destroyed the trust of every sex worker and adult content creator with the announcement of the porn ban; even if some creators return after this pullback, they won’t be exclusive to OF any more.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I hope the investors enjoy cashing out of a business about to crater.

I mean it was bad enough when Bella Thorne cost them so much money in fees to these same cc processors when they had to refund her million dollar payday, because she lied… and you let her stay.

But then you kicked every sex worker in the junk by limiting how much money anyone could give a model on OF to protect your bottom line causing all sorts of problems for the people who make your site worth anything, because of 1 lying person you never punished.

Now you expect that any of them would stay with your platform knowing that y’all can and will throw them under the bus at any point to get a few more nickels.

Sex workers aren’t stupid & well you keep hitting them like Ike hit Tina… and you think they’ll stay because you said oopsie changed our minds again?? Is OF based on one of the states where pot is legal cause I’m thinking this whole escapade can only be explained by AfroMan singing ‘Because I Got High’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Didn’t Tumblr just go through something like this… censor the content, wonder why the authors of that content are suddenly all leaving the platform in droves, then try to beg them to return in vain after having trashed everything? I think it ended with the company sold for a pittance, compared to what it was once worth?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Tumblr was neither confused that all the authors left, nor did they try to get them to return.

But otherwise, yes, Tumblr was bought by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in 2013, banned nudity etc. in 2018, and was sold to Automattic in 2019 for a reported $3 million (though this number is not confirmed).

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