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Who Pulls the Internets’ Strings?

A VoiceBox response to the OnlyFans drama

Current eventsTech and the online world
By VoiceBox ·

VoiceBox

For young people, by young people.

Who Pulls the Internets’ Strings? : An OnlyFans Response

It has been a rollercoaster ride for OnlyFans creators over the past few weeks. The site which has become synonymous with pornographic content declared a ban on that exact content, citing pressure from banking establishments, only to reverse this decision within a week. While the 180 degree turn on such a huge decision will come as a blessing to thousands of creators, it is impossible to undo the harm the OnlyFans announcement has inflicted. Creators’ and users’ confidence in the site has been shaken, and the trend of online platforms seemingly abandoning their creators has been reaffirmed. 

The 18+ subscription-based platform relies heavily on generating income from its 2 million creators – many of whom make the big bucks by charging users to view intimate softcore pornography. While the company claimed it was making the changes because of pressure from banking partners, it seems likely that OnlyFans knew it was heading towards trouble with regulators after years of leniency towards underage users and illegal content, resulting in a decision that left many people in the lurch. 

“I’m furious. I shrugged this off as rumors circulating again and they really didn’t have the decency to tell us first. I hope their money burns in flames.”

“Looks like everyone is going to be forced to go back to premium Snapchats. And since that’s not what Snapchat was made for there’s going to be a lot more shady stuff going on. At least there were SOME safety measures with OF.” 

Creators are (understandably) angry at OnlyFans as many faced a revision of their income and creative output. It is clear to us, however, that the decision is not one OnlyFans will have wanted to make, as the company was set to lose the majority of their creators and a large portion of their acquisitions. Whether this decision was the result of pressure from banking institutions or government regulators, it came perilously close to hurting OnlyFans as much as its creators. This shines a harsh light on the way banks, regulators and other companies wield their substantial power, often in a hamfisted way. 

“Regardless of OnlyFans situation affecting you directly, if you think that payment processors dictating what you are allowed and not allowed to consume on the internet is in any way a good thing, boy do I have news.”

“Honestly. This OnlyFans issue isn’t about platforms, but society, legislation, Puritanical values driven by companies and how we criminalize sex work.”

While the OnlyFans incident is fresh in the mind of internet users, it is not the first, nor will it be the last incident where creators face financial ruin due to changes in the tides of their preferred platform. Anyone who spends time on Twitch can tell you about the disruptions creators have faced as a result of the ever changing terms of service. A quick look through your YouTube subscriptions will inevitably involve the word “demonetized” or even the now antiquated “Adpocalypse”.  We have reached a point where your creativity and talent comes second to your ability to predict your platform’s changing winds and ride their algorithmic tides. Creators, whether on Youtube, Twitch, OnlyFans, or any other platform frankly, exist in a state of continuous flux, trying to maintain a fickle audience on an even more fickle platform, with no recourse for when they are unceremoniously dumped by either. Even with OnlyFans reversing their decision, hundreds of creators have lost faith in their platform and are jumping ship to platforms such as Fansly and JustForFans to look for something more stable. In the short term this may be the right decision, however it seems only a matter of time before the new platform of choice becomes popular, is put under pressure from governments and companies, and becomes as unstable as OnlyFans.

In the face of these issues, many creators understandably directed their anger towards their platform. However, if we want to create an internet where creators are restricted only by their creativity and talent, we need to dig a little deeper. Unfortunately, the water upon which online creators stay afloat is murky, and trying to find answers is almost impossible. Which companies threatened to pull their ads from YouTube, and why did YouTube cave? Was it really the banks or the regulators who nearly killed OnlyFans? How are users in the U.S impacted by legislation in Europe? 

Unfortunately, creators almost never get answers to these questions, making it impossible to reliably adjust to their platform’s ever-changing expectations. In order to allow the internet to flourish and creators to thrive, we need a culture of transparency, and conversation. Creators need to know what direction their platform is about to head down and why, and to be involved in those decisions. Users deserve to know why their favourite creator needed to stop making content to pay the bills. Ultimately, the internet needs to have pockets of stability upon which creators can depend and build on. 

We know that (once again) young people have been let down, which is why we want you to start the conversation here on VoiceBox. If you have any opinions, experiences or suggestions on how OnlyFans can improve its policies, we want to hear from you. Reach out to us on our 'Get Involved' page.

If you want to learn more about OnlyFans and what young people think about the platfrom you can check out our report on the platfrom.

*Featured quotes have been gathered from various online platforms. All statements have been anonymised to protect the identity of those involved.*

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