Internet | August 25, 2021 10:15 am

OnlyFans Backtracks on Explicit Content Ban

In the wake of intense backlash, OnlyFans is now claiming the controversial ban on explicit content will be "suspended"

OnlyFans logo displayed on iPhone screen
Is the OnlyFans explicit content ban off?
akub Porzycki/NurPhoto

Less than a week after announcing a forthcoming ban on explicit content set to take effect in October, subscription platform OnlyFans appears to be backtracking on the controversial move. In the wake of intense backlash from sex workers and allies who slammed OnlyFans for turning its back on the adult content creators who made the platform a household name, the company has released a statement on Twitter claiming the ban on explicit content will be “suspended.”

“Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard,” the OnlyFans account wrote in a tweet Wednesday morning. “We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change. OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators.”

Naturally, as is true of much of the OnlyFans discourse that has unfolded over the last week, this statement raises more questions and confusion than it does answers. For one thing, as multiple incensed sex workers and allies noted in replies to the tweet, “suspended” is not the same thing as “canceled,” suggesting OnlyFans is still toying with the idea of eventually implementing the explicit content ban.

Others took issue with the fact that OnlyFans neglected to mention sex work or sex workers at all in the tweet, or to give credit to those adult performers and creators for their role in establishing the platform. Over the weekend, OnlyFans put out a half-hearted tweet thanking sex workers for their contributions, marking the first time the company explicitly acknowledged sex work or sex workers. The tweet, which began “Dear sex workers” and ended with the increasingly empty tautology “sex work is work,” was widely criticized by sex workers who resented the lukewarm and seemingly insincere nod of faux solidarity from the company that had just screwed them over. Now, it seems OnlyFans is back to tiptoeing around the reality of sex work at all.

“Ok but you’re back to calling us creators. You can call us sex workers. Or is this your subtle way of going back to ignoring us,” tweeted Freshie Juice.

What OnlyFans’ reported “suspension” of the explicit content ban really means and how it will affect sex workers on the platform remains to be seen. One thing that’s pretty clear, however, is that sex workers are not having it. Multiple replies to the tweet essentially told OnlyFans to take their suspension and shove it, encouraging other sex workers not to trust the platform that betrayed them and to instead continue to rebuild a following on other, sex-worker friendly sites.

Of course, OnlyFans’ threat to ban explicit content is not the first time sex workers have been kicked off platforms they helped create. Even if OnlyFans defectors determined not to set foot on the company’s recently unrolled welcome back mat can find refuge on another platform, there’s a good chance that platform, too, will eventually turn its back on sex workers after reaching a level of mainstream popularity. What happened at OnlyFans wasn’t anything sex workers hadn’t been dreading and anticipating all along. If OnlyFans takes this opportunity to fight back against the financial discrimination from banks the company has blamed for the ban, that unfortunate and common reality of online sex work could finally change. In the meantime, however, sex workers remain understandably wary of the platform that keeps waffling back and forth on their livelihood, and for good reason.