The founder and CEO of OnlyFans, the social site whose user and revenue growth boomed thanks to X-rated content, said the company would “absolutely” welcome pornographic material back on the site — but that for now, OnlyFans is at the mercy of banks that refuse to do business with it.
OnlyFans founder and chief exec Tim Stokely placed the blame for the U.K. company’s move to ban sexually explicit content as of Oct. 1, announced last week, on several major banks in an interview with the Financial Times published Tuesday.
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“The change in policy, we had no choice — the short answer is banks,” Stokely said. Banks including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of New York Mellon and the U.K.’s Metro Bank “cite reputational risk and refuse our business,” he said.
The decision by OnlyFans to ban porn, while still allowing creators to share photos and videos containing nudity, angered many sex workers who have relied on the site to support themselves. OnlyFans, founded in 2016, has claimed to have more than 130 million registered users and over 2 million creators.
“We pay over 1 million creators over $300 million every month, and making sure that these funds get to creators involves using the banking sector,” according to Stokely. Because several banks have cut off OnlyFans from making wire transfers, that has made it difficult to pay creators, he said. BNY Mellon, JP Morgan Chase and Metro Bank each declined to comment, per the FT.
“This decision was made to safeguard [creators’] funds and subscriptions from increasingly unfair actions by banks and media companies — we obviously do not want to lose our most loyal creators,” Stokely told the Financial Times.
Stokely also said that OnlyFans is “fully compliant” with new Mastercard rules, so that had no bearing on the decision to ban porn. He also said the change was not made to appease investors.
OnlyFans was unfairly targeted by media coverage of an “illegal content incident,” according to Stokely. That may be a reference to investigative reports by BBC News, which in May reported that OnlyFans was failing to prevent kids under 18 from illegally using the site to sell pornographic material. Last week, a BBC News report cited leaked OnlyFans documents purportedly revealing that the company allows moderators to issue multiple warnings to accounts posting illegal content before terminating them.
In response, OnlyFans has said that it goes far beyond “all relevant global safety standards and regulations” in policing content on its site. The company last week released it first monthly transparency report in which it disclosed that it deactivated 15 OnlyFans accounts in July 2021 after identifying child pornography on them.
In an Aug. 21 tweet addressed to creators who are sex workers, OnlyFans said it is “working around the clock to come up with solutions” to the porn ban.
“Dear Sex Workers, The OnlyFans community would not be what it is today without you,” the company wrote. “The policy change was necessary to secure banking and payment services to support you. We are working around the clock to come up with solutions.”
After announcing the prohibition on content depicting sexually explicit conduct, it released a proposed up to its acceptable use policy that spelled out what that means.
The banned content includes material that shows: “actual or simulated sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, between persons of any sex”; actual or simulated masturbation; any “exhibition of the anus or genitals of any person which is extreme or offensive”; and “actual or simulated material depicting bodily fluids commonly secreted during sexual conduct.”
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