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OnlyFans reverses porn ban after public backlash

The porn ban was widely criticized for endangering the livelihoods of sex workers on OnlyFans.

 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Published Aug 25, 2021   Updated Aug 25, 2021, 12:32 pm CDT

After widespread public outcry, OnlyFans has canceled its plan to ban sexually explicit content on the site.

The OnlyFans porn ban was scheduled to arrive on October 1, inspiring a flood of mockery and harsh political criticism as soon as it was announced last week. While the app is home to a variety of creators, it’s primarily known for NSFW content and is a crucial source of income for many sex workers. The porn ban was widely criticized for endangering people’s livelihoods—not to mention the hypocrisy of censoring porn on a platform that’s famous for hosting porn.

In a tweet posted on Wednesday, OnlyFans announced that it had “secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community,” adding that the site “stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators.”

The “assurances” mentioned here relate to the site’s banking partners, which were the original impetus for the porn ban. When OnlyFans first announced that it would ban sexually explicit content, the news was met with disbelief by those who didn’t fully understand the context. Why would OnlyFans intentionally sabotage the site’s biggest source of income? According to OnlyFans CEO Tim Stokely, banks like the Bank of New York Mellon were to blame.

Most major banks and credit card companies are cracking down on transactions relating to sex work, citing concerns about sex trafficking—and facing pressure from conservative lobbyists. In turn, these crackdowns end up penalizing sex workers across the board, damaging the livelihoods of self-employed creators who work on platforms like OnlyFans.

The rapid reversal of the porn ban comes as something of a surprise, suggesting that OnlyFans may not have expected such a vocal public backlash. It’s a tangible sign of changing attitudes to sex work, exemplified by OnlyFans’ status as a mainstream pop-culture brand with celebrity users. However, we will probably see similar clashes play out on other platforms, as banks and conservative pressure groups join forces to censor and suppress NSFW content online.

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*First Published: Aug 25, 2021, 9:17 am CDT