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OnlyFans Creators Are Trying Not To Panic

"I am going to have to rebuild everything from scratch if OnlyFans kicks sex workers and lewd creators off the platform."

Posted on August 20, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. ET

Courtesy of Billy Procida, Courtesy of Lost

After OnlyFans announced Thursday that it would no longer allow sexually explicit content on its platform, Alana Evans spent the day fielding phone calls, DMs, and emails.

Evans, the president of the Adult Performance Artists Guild, was trying to calm down some of her union members who use OnlyFans to post adult content. After the platform made the surprise announcement that it would do away with the very content that made it famous, creators and performers were telling Evans how worried they were for their financial futures.

“Right now, we’re focusing on mental health,” Evans told BuzzFeed News. “We’re focusing on kindness and calmness because when you are creating this type of chaos, when it’s attached to our workers’ paychecks — we can’t just leave adult work and just get a job somewhere else, because they won’t hire us because we’ve already done adult work.”

Starting Oct. 1, OnlyFans creators will be barred from posting sexually explicit content but can continue to share images of nudity — although the line between the two is unclear, and the company’s vague statements have drawn confusion online. Evans is trying to ensure her 1,100 union members, some 90% of whom use OnlyFans, stay calm until all their questions are answered.

Despite its popularity, OnlyFans has struggled to attract outside investors who are wary of being associated with sexual content. But banks also make things difficult for the adult industry. In its statement regarding the new policy, OnlyFans said it needed to “comply with the requests of [its] banking partners and payout providers.” Last year, Visa and Mastercard banned the use of their cards on Pornhub in response to a report that the website was hosting videos of child abuse and rape. Subsequently, in April, Mastercard laid out new rules that demanded adult websites verify the age and identity of anyone depicted in adult content as well as maintain a process to review content prior to it being uploaded. OnlyFans already had lax regulations for people posting illegal content before it decided to get out of the adult business altogether.

OnlyFans isn’t the first digital company to restrict adult content after allowing it for years. In 2017, Patreon made the same move, and Tumblr soon followed suit. Adult performers also have had problems with social media companies. In 2019, some protested outside Instagram’s London offices after the app kept removing their accounts.

OnlyFans logo is seen displayed on a phone screen
Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Aimee, who posts as @aimeeinghigher on OnlyFans and, like others in this story, asked not to use her full name, said she thinks sex workers should “remain calm” for now.

“We have the ability to adapt and change,” she told BuzzFeed News. “There are other platforms out there that we can move to if this does happen, and we shouldn’t stress. We should wait for some clarity because I’m not even sure this is a legitimate thing.”

Lost, an OnlyFans creator who has been on the platform since 2019 and who makes about $800 to $2,000 per month with explicit content, said she takes some comfort knowing she is on other platforms, like Frisk. She also earns income via nonsexual content on Twitch, the livestreaming platform for gamers. But she knows not everyone is on those other platforms.

“It is a little bit nerve-racking for the people who can’t move platforms,” Lost said.

Several OnlyFans competitors have already seized on the news to promote their services for sex workers looking for a new platform, including JustForFans and AdultNode. But Evans said those efforts make her “cringe.” She worries creators will be taken advantage of if they’re not careful.

“I’ve told people, ‘We’re not going to be a part of that,’” she said. “‘We’re not going to jump on a bandwagon and say, ‘Go join this company.’ We want conversations with the platforms to assess what’s happening right now and to get a guarantee from them that they’re not going to do the same thing moving forward.”

Lilli Sabine, who makes anywhere from $100 to $1,200 per month on OnlyFans for her explicit content, which she uses to pay back her student loans, said she fears some of her followers may be wary of new apps.

"Unfortunately, if I can't quickly get my fanbase over to another platform ... it will take out a major chunk of my content income," Sabine said. "It can be super hard to convert followers over to new platforms, and I am going to have to rebuild everything from scratch if OnlyFans kicks sex workers and lewd creators off the platform."

Billy Procida, a comedian and host of The Manwhore Podcast, who earns rent money with explicit OnlyFans content, is among those trying not to panic.

“Now, I'm not just nervous about losing this income,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I'm nervous this antagonistic sex-negative trend will affect an entertainment career I started at 19. And I just don't understand why it has to — or why a bank just can't let people buy some fucking porn.”

Creators who spoke with BuzzFeed News said they felt betrayed that OnlyFans would ditch the people who helped make it a billion-dollar company in the first place. But Evans said she’s not surprised the company doesn’t seem to care about sex workers — although she is angry.

“We helped make them a household name,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the performers on their platform, Beyoncé wouldn’t have been talking about it. Cardi B wouldn’t have made her way over. We legitimized it for them.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.