OnlyFans has been gaining incredible popularity over the last couple years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermaths. The British content publishing platform launched in 2016 has since been causing a stir in the online world. What makes OnlyFans so popular that after barely a few years since its launch, it is stepping on the toes of such social media giants as Facebook or Instagram, even though it is not free? What are the reasons OnlyFans is attracting so much controversy?
The OnlyFans platform – the idea and principle behind it. How does it work? What distinguishes it among other social media platforms?
OnlyFans is an online content subscription service dedicated to all kinds of artists and creators and, as the name suggests, their most devoted fans. What makes OnlyFans different though, when compared to other competition services, is that it allows for publishing exclusive, paid content.
How does OnlyFans work?
To get access to browsing pictures and videos or to participate in live events, one has to get a paid subscription with a given content creator. It would be thus inaccurate to refer to OnlyFans as a ‘free of charge service’, unlike the majority of other popular social media platforms. The platform hosts artists and creators producing virtually any kind of content you can think of, and it provides accessible tools that support them in making money out of the content they are offering.
The OnlyFans community: Fans and Creators
While the whole world was going through the COVID-19 pandemic, complaining about the consecutive lockdowns being imposed, Tim Stokes, the creator of OnlyFans, was rubbing his hands: thousands and thousands of artists – music artists, singers, dancers, designers, but also fitness trainers, chefs, cosplayers and plenty of other professionals (and not only) in the creative industries – were being driven to move their activity online. Many of them were turning to OnlyFans, the fact owing largely to the simple and straightforward payout terms: in order to upload and share paid content, all you need to do is create an account and outline your subscription fees. Users interested in your content subscribe to your account and pay upfront for at least a month of access to the pictures, videos, and other content you provide.
Apart from the regular subscription fees, Fans can pay additional Fan Payments by way of tips to the Creators they are subscribed to. In exchange, they get access to high-quality, exclusive content, such as private pictures, unpublished behind-the-scenes videos, access to private messaging and songs, and other materials before their release. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, since the Creators are going out of their way to maintain the top quality of their content and to ensure that the upgraded material is indeed unique and exclusive to the OnlyFans users, and not available on any other platform. That’s a no brainer though – who would want to pay for something that will be available the same day on a different platform for free?
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Controversial content on OnlyFans. Is it legal, and what is the impact on children and young people?
As mentioned before, one of the advantages of OnlyFans is that the service allows publishing content by practically any content creator, or simply anyone at all. What is specific to OnlyFans, and at the same time most controversial, the censorship here seems to be applied on a very liberal basis. This led to the service quickly gaining a dubious reputation for providing sexual content and becoming a synonym of broadly defined pornography. With its lenient policies towards restriction of pornographic materials, OnlyFans has attracted plenty of young people who see it as an incredibly easy way to make money by providing adult content. It may seem shocking to some, but the vision of easy money made in such a way has enticed huge numbers of people willing to share explicit content, and OnlyFans grew to be considered and classed as a platform for sex-workers.
What does the law say about OnlyFans and the content it allows? Well, officially, in order to create an OnlyFans account, you need to be at leas 18 years old – an age at which, according to the British law, you can legally watch and publish pornography. In practice, however, the verification procedure the site puts in place – which is merely to take a selfie with an ID confirming the age – seems ineffective and rather easy to get around. Fooling the verification process needs no sophisticated efforts: simply borrowing an ID from an older sibling or friend will do the job.
Of course, the service moderators try to spot that and respond to such cases being reported, but it’s clear that they won’t be able to find absolutely every case of a smart minor trying to get access to adult content by tricking a system based on a selfie. On top of that, teenagers are tempted by the vision of making substantial amounts of money with a relatively insignificant effort. So, how much can one really earn on OnlyFans?
How much do the OnlyFans Creators make?
The money made by some of the most popular OnlyFans Creators could make even the highest paid professionals jealous. To give an example, the incredibly business-minded model Belle Delphine claims to be earning more than a million dollars per month through her online activity, which involves mainly cosplay modelling and erotic dancing in front of the camera in skimpy, fluffy clothing.
The cost of subscribing to Belle Delphine’s OnlyFans channel is 35 dollars per month, and the most devoted of her fans can add on various gadgets, among which the only one we are not embarrassed to mention is a bottle filled with the water that the model has bathed in. We are however embarrassed to report that one such bottle is currently priced at 30 USD.
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Another OnlyFans star is a teenage female rapper Bhad Bhabie who racked up a million dollars on the platform in record-breaking time. It took no longer than six hours and one Instagram post for crowds of Fans to purchase the subscription priced at 24 USD. The artist later clarified that around 750 thousand dollars came from the subscription fees, and the remaining quarter million was due to individual payouts. Recently, Bhad Bhabie took to Instagram to post a screenshot of her receipt from her OnlyFans account to prove she made over $50 million in gross revenue between April 2021 and April 2022.
These earnings definitely stun the imagination, but we should not forget that they are but exceptions among the over 120 mln platform users.
Latest information on the OnlyFans activity – the controversy continues
It sounds like the lawyers working for the OnlyFans company should brace themselves as they are in for a hard case. The reports of dissemination of child pornography on the platform have been investigated and addressed not only by the BBC journalists, but also several child protection organisations.
The case seems serious, as according to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the cases of over 10 children known to be missing have been linked to pornographic content published on OnlyFans in 2019. In 2020, the number tripled. Additionally, ChildLine, a UK-based counselling service for children and young people reports that many of the youngest OnlyFans Creators are believed to have been sexually abused as children, or to suffer from mental health issues.
Another OnlyFans problem, commonly reported by users, is the question of posting and sharing material picturing other individuals who have not given prior consent to it being posted and shared on the platform, or even captured in the first place. In that regard, OnlyFans seems to be turning a blind eye to it and trivialises the issue, calling those cases ‘overlookings’ and referring back to the verification system (that we already know is not working). Regardless, numerous cases have been reported to the police and investigations are being carried out. What’s going to be the outcome? We shall follow the British media.
And you? What do you make of OnlyFans? Are you a Fan, or are you avoiding it like a plague? Let us know in the comments below!