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OnlyFans creators are getting screwed—and not in the way many subscribers are used to seeing. This week, the adult fan site, which rose to prominence last year and was even name-checked by Beyoncé on Megan Thee Stallion’s Grammy-winning “Savage Remix,” announced that it was further distancing itself from the business that made it an in-demand enterprise: hardcore porn.

The sharp pivot comes on the eve of the company’s five-year anniversary and the introduction of a new app, OFTV, in what is a clear attempt to become more of a general-purpose marketplace for creators.

In a statement released Thursday, the company said that, starting October 1, it would forbid the “posting of any content containing sexually explicit conduct” that doesn’t adhere to its Acceptable Use Policy. Details about the ban are still forthcoming, but OnlyFans representatives did confirm that nudity would be allowed as long as it abided by the company’s updated guidelines. The changes are, in part, to appease its “banking partners” as well as to “ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform,” the company said, and seem to be in line with its recent efforts to widen the composition of its creator pool beyond sex workers.

What remains unclear in the wake of OnlyFans’ announcement is whether those guidelines could become even more restrictive as the company’s financial interests evolve. A BBC report confirmed that the company decided to update its guidelines in part because of Mastercard’s decision to implement new rules for adult content sites that use their payment processing system. Last year, both Mastercard and Visa terminated their relationship with Pornhub. Mastercard’s new policies are meant to make sure adult sites have controls in place to monitor and remove illegal content, but OnlyFans’ move to ban nearly all explicit material left many worried about the fate of sex workers on the platform.

Across the internet, the surprise announcement was met with a mix of cynicism, support, and humor. Creators say they are skeptical of the changes, though hardly surprised. “They used us,” says Xavier Blanco. “They exploited our connections, only to toss us out.” Blanco, who is 34 and lives in New York City, joined the platform in the summer of 2019 and has made a considerable living through the site, where he uploads all manner of gay erotica. “They are laying off countless individuals without caring about their livelihood.”

In December 2019 when I spoke with Dominic Ford, the founder of JustFor.Fans, a rival adult fansite, he predicted such a future. “As has been the trend, sex-positive imagery of any kind is slowly being washed away from social media,” he said at the time, pointing to websites such as Tumblr, Craigslist, and Patreon cranking up restrictions on pornographic content.

Still, the impact of OnlyFans—and the site’s abrupt change in course—cannot be understated. Since its founding in 2016, the site has slowly ushered in a new frontier for adult entertainment. In what was once a hostile, and sometimes dangerous, landscape for sex workers, OnlyFans became a lucrative alternative to conventional services, such as camming, escorting, and studio porn. Conceptually, what made OnlyFans feel like such a radical leap forward was how it melded a growing need for personalized porn with our obsession with influencer culture. Eventually, Big Tech followed suit. Twitter, YouTube, and other major platforms have since developed tools that allow users to monetize their unique skills.

As a result, OnlyFans became the premiere adult subscription site online, drawing users from all corners of the internet. Today it is home to 2 million creators that have collectively made $3 billion in earnings since its launch. That includes reality stars, former pro athletes, celebrity musicians, and social media influencers, all of whom post varying degrees of adult content. The bulk of creators, however, remain bona fide sex workers—many of whom rely on earnings from the platform to survive.

For Anshuman Iddamsetty, a 38-year-old nonbinary creator who uploads content dedicated to fat pleasure, the news was especially upsetting. They joined the site in September of 2019 and the earnings from OnlyFans, Iddamsetty says, “helped me stabilize my life after being laid off from my previous job in tech.” Iddamsetty, who posts under the pseudonym Boarlord, says they “did not earn a lavish amount—modest may be more accurate,” but, “I had a tiny fractal of peace doing something I excelled at. This would not have been possible without OnlyFans.”

Still, Iddamsetty told me, they expected this to happen, just not so soon. And the repercussions run deeper than many realize. The outcome, they added, will severely impact already marginalized creators who are denied access to traditional routes of employment. “This is nothing short of catastrophic to thousands of survival sex workers, the vast majority of whom are Black, Indigenous, brown, queer, mentally ill, disabled, fat, single parents, undocumented, and unhoused,” Iddamsetty says. “If this was any other industry, we would report it as a staggering number of people being laid off across the planet.”





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