OnlyFans prohibits sexually explicit content

The OnlyFans logo on a laptop.

Gaby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images

OnlyFans bans what most users go to its site for: pornography.

The UK-based content subscription service said Thursday it would no longer allow « sexually explicit » content from October 1. OnlyFans said the decision was made to accommodate requests from its banking and payment providers.

« To ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform and continue to host an inclusive community of developers and fans, we need to evolve our content policies, » OnlyFans said in a statement.

Payment processors Mastercard and Visa parted ways with rival Pornhub last year after the porn site was accused of showing videos depicting underage sex, rape and revenge porn. Pornhub denied claims that it was allowing child sexual abuse material and subsequently tightened its rules to ban uploads from unverified users.

OnlyFans said Thursday it would allow certain posts featuring nudity as long as they adhere to the « Acceptable Use Policy. » It is not clear how this will work in practice. OnlyFans’ Terms of Service describes a number of things that are prohibited on its platform, including material involving persons under the age of 18 and other illegal or harmful content.

« We will be sharing more details in the coming days and will be actively supporting and guiding our developers through this content policy change, » the company said.

Founded in 2016 by British businessman Tim Stokely, OnlyFans has grown in popularity in recent years, in large part due to hosting clips and photos of adult performers. The platform allows sex workers to charge their fans for viewing « not safe for work » material.

OnlyFans boomed during the coronavirus pandemic, as netizens stuck at home sought entertainment online and people losing their jobs turned to the platform as an alternative way of making a living.

OnlyFans claims to have over 130 million users and 2 million content creators. The company had net sales of $375 million last year, according to an Axios report Thursday citing an investor deck. OnlyFans expects sales of $1.2 billion this year and $2.5 billion by 2022, Axios reported.

More than 300 OnlyFans creators reportedly make at least $1 million annually, while 16,000 creators make at least $50,000 annually.

With numbers like that, you’d think venture capitalists would be lining up to write a check for OnlyFans. However, according to Axios, many investors are steering clear due to concerns about adult content. Some venture funds are not allowed to invest in sexual content websites due to agreements with their institutional backers.

OnlyFans was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

The move is likely to anger many OnlyFans content creators who rely on the service as their main source of revenue. Many adult entertainers use OnlyFans to complement their work for other porn sites. Getting rid of the content OnlyFans is best known for could also have a big impact on revenue.

However, OnlyFans insists that it is more than just a platform for sex workers. For example, celebrities like Cardi B and Bella Thorne have joined the platform in the past year. It is also used by chefs, fitness enthusiasts and musicians. But porn is by far the most popular category on the site.

OnlyFans is majority owned by Leonid Radvinsky, a Ukrainian-American porn entrepreneur. The company is targeting a funding round worth more than $1 billion, according to a Bloomberg report.

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