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As OnlyFans bans ‘sexually-explicit content’, what else is actually on there?

·3-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

OnlyFans has announced that it will no longer be allowing pornography on its platform. The shock decision led many to express a similarly surprised question: what else is there on OnlyFans?

But in fact the company has been looking to bridge out widely in recent months, with the aim of becoming associated not with adult videos but with any kind of content that creators want to offer their fans through an ongoing subscription.

There is nothing inherent in the OnlyFans platform that means it will only be used by those looking to sell sexually-explicit or adult content. As such, it has looked to pitch itself as simply a way of offering creators a way of selling content to their fans in a way not possible on the traditional social media platforms.

That kind of pitch has also been helpful in attempting to position OnlyFans away from the adult content that it has become associated with. That seems to have become a problem for investors, since many venture capitalists are wary of spending money on a platform associated with pornography; it is also an issue for payment providers, whose protests OnlyFans said had led to the new ban.

OnlyFans does not share what proportion of its revenue comes from those other kinds of content, compared with the sexually-explicit videos that will now be banned. It also did not give any indication of what kind of proportion of posts or users would be removed with the new rule prohibiting pornography.

Tim Stokely, OnlyFans chief executive, told The Independent in March that the company had come to be associated with adult content for a variety of reasons – but that had been changing.

“We are often associated with adult content, I think, because you have to be over the age of 18 to use the platform. And all the content is behind a paywall. That allowed us to have more liberal content policies,” Mr Stokely said in March.

“We found that creators from the adult industry really embraced the platform early on. But the the content on the platform has really evolved.”

He said then that the site’s fastest growing areas are now “fitness, music and more recently fashion”. His comments came as OnlyFans launched a creative fund to support musicians, precisely aimed at showing off the other kinds of content that can be found on the app.

Similarly, OnlyFans has looked to highlight the work of other kinds of creators, in the blog posts on its website. In an article titled “OnlyFans creators you should be following” for July 2021, it highlighted the work of fitness trainers Jono Castano and Mike Chabot, former Love Islander Joseph Garratt and Real Housewife Larsa Pippen.

None of those creators were highlighted for their sexually-explicit content or anything like it. Instead, OnlyFans looked to promote the way they have used the platform to offer fitness tips, behind-the-scenes content and exclusive insights into their life.

In much of its marketing, OnlyFans is keen to pitch itself as simply a version of popular apps such as Instagram that allows creators to monetise their content through subscriptions rather than give it away for free. The design of the app is similar to those other platforms.

Some of the more safe for work content found on OnlyFans can be previewed on what it calls OFTV, it’s PG-rated video service that launched this week. The categories available there offer a look at the other kinds of topics the company is aiming for: fitness, sports, wellness, cooking, vlogs and music.

It is also worth noting that OnlyFans is only banning what it refers to as “sexually-explicit content”, and not all kinds of nudity. That will still be allowed, so long as it complies with the site’s rules, which include the stipulation that any nude photos are only of people above the age of 18, for instance.

As such, many of the sex workers and adult content performers who have made vast amounts of money on the platform could still continue to use it in much the same form.

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