OnlyFans is the latest iteration of the online sexual exploitation marketplace.
OnlyFans makes money off of vulnerable people’s bodies – especially the bodies of women and minors. Exploiting financial insecurities deepened by the COVID-19 crisis, OnlyFans promises fast cash, empowerment, and even fame. While “Fans” may pay fees for nude images, videos, and livestreams, it is the “creators” who pay the high price of psychological, emotional, and physical harm that the sex industry imparts. As a self-branded “influencer” platform, OnlyFans also normalizes prostitution among young persons.
Help expose OnlyFans for enabling sexual exploitation by taking action below!
The site has quickly risen in public consciousness since being launched in 2016, so that as of December 2020 it was ranked the 92nd most visited site in the United States and the 170th most visited site in the world. It has been heralded by some as an empowering and safe way to sell sex—but the reality is that OnlyFans facilitates sexual exploitation, harms minors, and emboldens men to objectify and degrade women.
HOW IT WORKS
OnlyFans has a subscription-based business model, where a viewer pays a monthly membership fee and tips to see a “content creator’s” photos and videos. The owner, Leonid Radvinsky, reportedly has “a history of lawsuits and allegations of spam, theft, fraud, and drug dealing.” He owns other large pornography webcamming websites, and so clearly it seems that the platform’s intention is to facilitate commercial sex acts online.
The site entices new performers by claiming “You could earn between $1,499 and $7,495 per month.” Further, OnlyFans encourages grooming and pimping through its referral system which allows individuals to profit 5% of anyone’s earnings who signs up via their referral link for the first year of their account. It is no surprise that unaffiliated online pimps actively recruit new girls and women to join. One survivor of OnlyFans stated, “They usually approach the model on Twitter and groom her so that she will agree to let them help “manage” her online presence in exchange for a cut. People are desperate naive and they fall for it. This naturally creates a perfect opportunity for blackmail and other types of emotional manipulation. It happens all. the. time. And it isn’t talked about nearly enough…”
HOW IT HARMS
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation: OnlyFans Does Not Adequately Verify Age or Consent
OnlyFans has insufficient verification measures for age or consent—meaning it is highly likely that child sexual abuse materials and sex trafficked persons are being exploited on the platform. In August 2020, Forensic News conducted an investigation, reporting: “To test the privacy concerns regarding OnlyFans, Forensic News signed up for an account with OnlyFans using a throwaway email account with ProtonMail and made a post on the platform. Not once were we asked to show any identification proving that the account belonged to someone over the age of 18.” This is in line with previous reports such as by Internet Matters which stated: “In May 2019, OnlyFans introduced a new account verification process that a Creator now must provide a ‘selfie’ along with their ID in the image to prove their identity. Yet, from our research and that of the BBC’s, underage users have used other people’s ID’s and have created an account without a problem.”
It is an accepted fact, supported by survivors of sex trafficking and child abuse, that pornographic pictures and videos are used to advertise for both sex trafficking and prostitution victims (including minors.) Further, law enforcement is finding that many sex trafficking victims, and child sexual abuse imagery (i.e. child pornography) victims, are coerced into creating livestream or webcam pornography as well. OnlyFans is therefore an obvious marketplace for exploiters to promote and sell sexual abuses.
Parents are speaking out about adults buying child sexual abuse images of young girls on OnlyFans. For example, on a UK online forum one mother wrote: “My [daughter] says they’re all on it at school and making a fortune. Very popular with Y11- 13 [approximate ages 15-17]. It’s normal apparently, and kids throughout the country are doing it. She said, they tell parents they are having a bath, or just use their bedrooms.” Another mother responded to this post saying she’d discussed the issue with her own high school aged daughter and noted, “Mine says she isn’t doing it, but has close friends who are.”
Tragically, cases of people being sex trafficked for the purpose of pornographic content on OnlyFans have begun to surface as well. In Miami, a couple was arrested for human trafficking after they posted sexually explicit images of a 16-year-old on social media, promoting the images for sale as “New Content” with a link to their OnlyFans page.
Online Prostitution and Pornography: Inherent Harms
While some claim OnlyFans is safe because it doesn’t require physical contact with sex buyers, it actually leaves people vulnerable to sextortion, non-consensually shared pornography, and escalation into more extreme acts.
Former OnlyFans performer, Claudia, stated, “Each subscriber paid me $10 a week and after the cut from OF [OnlyFans] I was left with £8. I needed to get as many subscribers as possible so I could pay my rent, which means posting new images all day every day, and agreeing to more and more explicit stuff. In the end I felt exhausted and degraded and cancelled my membership.”
On a UK forum, another woman wrote: “I personally know of a friend who went down that route, made a decent amount in the first few months, only to be pushed to show her face and do more and more extreme acts to retain her subscribers who all ended up leaving anyway. She has now quit but her videos are stuck on free porn sites and reposted on forums from time to time. Her case isn’t a rare one.”
Further, recently it was reported that a 21-year-old woman in Australia who posted pornography on OnlyFans was followed and harassed by a man who went on to leak her personal information online.
OnlyFans promotes itself as a safe platform, but in reality it pedals psychological trauma, blackmail, “leaked” information and videos, and a competitive marketplace that drives performers to do increasingly violent or degrading acts.
Help educate the public
Share “10 Reasons You Should Not Start an OnlyFans Account” from survivor leaders at Treasures.
Here’s a YouTube video, or share this deck from Instagram:
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Email the new Attorney General at DOJ
Please contact the Attorney General at U.S. Department of Justice and ask them to investigate Only Fans for facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking
Tell Credit Cards to Stop Processing Payments for OnlyFans
Please contact Executives at Visa, Mastercard, and Discover and ask them to stop processing payments for OnlyFans.
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Share Your Story
It can be painful to share stories of sexual exploitation or harm, and sometimes it’s useful to focus on personal healing first. But for many, sharing their past or current experiences may be a restorative and liberating process. This is a place for those who want to express their story.