OnlyFans: What content is being banned and why?

Andrew Griffin
Friday 20 August 2021 11:02 BST
<p>OnlyFans’ decision could fundamentally change the platform </p>

OnlyFans’ decision could fundamentally change the platform

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OnlyFans has announced that it will be banning pornography, in a shock decision that could fundamentally change the platform.

Its statement that it will no longer be allowing “sexually-explicit content” led to a number of questions – including what, exactly, OnlyFans offers that isn’t sexually-explicit.

It also led many to question why exactly the decision had been made, given that OnlyFans has been growing so rapidly off the back of adult content.

Here is everything we know about the decision, and its consequences, for now.

What will be banned?

“Any content containing sexually-explicit conduct”, according to OnlyFans. It did not explicitly say what that means, though it likely covers pornographic posts of all kinds.

The company committed to share “more details in the coming days” as well as to “actively support and guide our creators through this change in content guidelines”.

But that phrase, for now, is all that OnlyFans has said about what will be banned.

Many kinds of content are already prohibited on the platform, and OnlyFans says it is “committed to the highest levels of safety and content moderation of any social platform”.

Its rules already ban content “that is illegal, fraudulent, defamatory, hateful, discriminatory, threatening or harassing, or which encourages or promotes violence or any illegal activity” as well as anything that might “exploit, harm, or attempt to exploit or harm any individual under 18 years old”. It also specifically bans anything that shows a variety of inappropriate content, which includes firearms, drugs, violence and so-called revenge porn.

As OnlyFans made the announcement of the ban, it also released its first transparency report, which covers July 2021. That showed that it had deactived 655 accounts for breaching those rules, and that 73,000 posts had been removed for the same reason.

Creators must also be verified before they acn upload any content, and OnlyFans content “is checked by automated systems and human moderators”. Those restrictions will stay in place.

What won’t be banned?

Everything else – including, notably, nudity.

It is not clear how exactly that distinction will be policed, and how OnlyFans will distinguish between sexually-explicit content and nudity. It will presumably make those distinctions more clear as the ban goes into effect in October.

But away from the entire topic of adult imagery, OnlyFans has been positioning itself as a platform for every other kind of content too.

Despite the app’s reputation, there is plenty of this content available. OnlyFans has looked to highlight posts from people such as musicians and fitness influencers, for instance, and says that those topics have accounted for much of its recent growth.

Why is this happening?

OnlyFans said in its statement that the “changes are to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers”. They had been taken to “ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans”, it said.

That was all the detail that it gave on the decision. But it comes amid a context of increasing concern about inappropriate content from investors and payment providers.

OnlyFans’ announcement came just hours after Axios reported the company’s leaked pitch to investors, and the fact that it was struggling to gather venture capital despite its rapid growth and high-profile status. Many investors were concerned about investing in a platform that includes pornography, it reported.

Those same concerns were presumably behind the pressure that OnlyFans said it was under from those unnamed financial institutions that handle its money and payouts. If they were threatening to cut support from OnlyFans and withhold payments to creators, it seems clear that the app would be unable to properly function.

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