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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Filed Under: adult content, banks, content moderation, payment processors, sexually explicit
Companies: onlyfans


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2021 @ 12:29pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2021 @ 2:31am

      Re: regarding moral panicky people.

      And a lot of companies are all too willing to bend the knee to those people's demands.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2021 @ 12:30pm

    All subscriptions already cancelled

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 12:34pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2021 @ 5:13am

      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).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 12:39pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2021 @ 12:54pm

    If I were any of those girls I'd still leave onlyfans. Remember that OF denied the "confirmed-but-now-backtracked" rumors then lied months later, this could be more of the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 1:31pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 12:58pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 1:01pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 1:05pm

    There has been the damaged trust. Plenty of sex workers already abandoned ship to alternatives. Win?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 1:17pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 25 Aug 2021 @ 1:23pm

    Mike Masnick-Oops, I wrote a meaningless trash article

    OOPS!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Erik, 25 Aug 2021 @ 3:06pm

    The whole truth

    Mike, you seem particularly interested in this story. Is there a Techdirt After Dark channel we don’t know about? :-D

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 4:14pm

    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'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 26 Aug 2021 @ 4:11am

      No Oops Here

      you said oopsie changed our minds again

      Actually, no. They never said they changed their minds again. They only said that they had ``suspended'' their planned change, which I presume means that when convenient the planned change will be put into effect.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 25 Aug 2021 @ 6:36pm

    Oops? Definitely not something you want to hear when it comes to sex.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2021 @ 9:27pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2021 @ 10:12pm

      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).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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