After the establishment of laws like FOSTA-SESTA and SIESA and the rise of organizations like Exodus Cry, OnlyFans’ updated policies were a long time coming.
On August 18, Rachel Dolezal, the woman who catfished the world into thinking she is a Black woman, announced on her Instagram that she is launching an OnlyFans account. I found it a grim coincidence that on the same day, OnlyFans announced they would “prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually explicit conduct.” As white celebrities like Dolezal will profit off OnlyFans, the sex workers, particularly those of color, will suffer the consequences of the ban. Advocates and sex worker allies have been warning us that OnlyFans censorship was bound to happen. Many sex workers, myself included, were kicked off OnlyFans long before this announcement for reasons related to the anti-sex-worker laws FOSTA-SESTA and SIESA that were passed in 2018, so the recent OnlyFans news isn’t much of an astonishment and is far from anything new.
Only last year, an opinion piece by Laila Mickelwait titled “Time to Shut Pornhub Down” was published in the Washington Examiner — it sparked a movement called Traffickinghub that allegedly gathered more than 2 million signatures on a petition to “Shut Down Pornhub and Hold Its Executives Accountable for Aiding Trafficking.” Marketed as a movement to hold PornHub accountable, it called for better regulation or to just take down the site as a whole. Mickelwait is a member of Exodus Cry, a nonprofit with ties to a puritanical extremist evangelical Christian group that is dedicated to abolishing the commercial sex industry.
After their petition went viral, Exodus Cry received hefty financial backing from NCOSE (National Center on Sexual Exploitation) and NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), and together they successfully pushed PornHub to remove all unverified content by pressuring Visa and Mastercard to cut ties with them. Exodus Cry’s success with pressuring PornHub has only strengthened their resolve. They want to see all forms of sex work eradicated, abolished — including so-called legal sex work such as strip clubs and camming. Exodus Cry has massive support and backing from millions of people who think that their whole agenda is to protect sex workers when what they are really doing is perpetuating harm. These extremist organizations were able to pull money from right- and left-wing-aligned people, so why would they stop now?
OnlyFans released a statement, along with a mass email stating that they will no longer allow explicit content on their platform in order to gear more toward mainstream, investor-friendly content.
Starting October 1, under OnlyFans’ updated Acceptable Use Policy, every user must verify their age. The time and effort it takes to vet each person is simply not worth it to OnlyFans, so instead, they are evicting the workers that have built their very platform. This will not stop sex trafficking. This may have a small effect on non-consensual videos, but overall it is a huge disservice to trafficking survivors.
OnlyFans owes its rise in popularity to its content creators, to its sex workers, and to people who support independent creators. This is an overbearing punishment for sex workers and a huge cost to sexual freedom. FOSTA SESTA was successful in deplatforming sex workers from Facebook, Craigslist personals, Reddit, Backpage, Instagram, TikTok, and now OnlyFans — creating a domino effect and impacting the most marginal among us. Because of the global pandemic, many sex workers turned to platforms like OnlyFans to make ends meet, and now we’ll be erased from platforms that are meant to keep sex workers safe. Not to mention — increasing censorship perpetuates violence against sex workers. So, what happens next? Which platform will get the ax next? How do we fight for our right to exist in a cisgender, heteronormative, capitalist patriarchy dystopia under increasing censorship?
The solution is the decriminalization of sex work. Until then, some more sex-worker-friendly platforms include AVN Stars, Just for Fans, ManyVids, FanCentro, Mygirlfund, Loyalfans, NiteFlirt, Frisk, and Chaturbate. No matter how hard moral pundits try to push workers underground, we will continue to rise in this hellscape dystopian society. Let’s secure the bag but first, let’s secure ourselves.
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