For some, a porn-soaked culture is oppressive, not liberating.
The company’s decision to reverse course on a proposed ban of “sexually explicit” content shows the power of pornography.
The social network has constructed a vast infrastructure to keep toxic material off its platform. At the center of it is Accenture, the blue-chip consulting firm.
Companies like Mastercard are cracking down on adult content. Are they doing more harm than good?
The company is the latest digital platform to crack down on such material. The site became a source of income for millions during the coronavirus pandemic.
OnlyFans has announced that it will ban sexually explicit content starting in October. The platform was not built specifically for porn but that has grown to be its most popular and visible use case, but pressure from “banking partners and payout providers” means the company will have to leave the adult content world behind and focus solely on SFW material going forward.
The news, first reported by Bloomberg, was confirmed by the company in a statement:
Effective 1 October, 2021, OnlyFans will prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually-explicit conduct. In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines. Creators will continue to be allowed to post content containing nudity as long as it is consistent with our Acceptable Use Policy.
These changes are to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers.
We will be sharing more details in the coming days and we will actively support and guide our creators through this change in content guidelines.
OnlyFans did not respond to TechCrunch’s inquiries as to its definition of sexually explicit content or how it expected this would impact the company’s bottom line.
The OnlyFans platform has become the de facto standard for independent creators doing adult content. Over the pandemic it grew increasingly popular as the adult industry, like others, had its normal operations interrupted. It has proved an invaluable asset for many creators, professional and aspiring, who used the platform to directly monetize fans without interacting with notoriously predatory established adult industry companies.
But sex work has always been risky in online operations. The practical risk of hosting illegal content means platforms must exert constant vigilance for things like child sex abuse material, malicious content like revenge porn and unwanted leaks, and everyday internet threats like piracy.
At the organizational level, however, the companies may find it difficult to scale due to the trepidation of investors and banks, both of which tend to avoid the industry in general as a “vice,” much the way cannabis and sex toy startups have faced challenges. Pushback from financial backers and payment processors can effectively sink an entire business model.
OnlyFans in this case says openly that it is abandoning adult content due to exactly this type of pressure. While the company has recently debuted and promoted its OFTV app, a SFW alternative to the main OnlyFans site, and of course there are many creators on the platform who do not produce sexually explicit content, this will be an enormous blow to both the sex work industry and to the company itself. Affected creators were not notified ahead of time.
“This is going to shatter a lot of people’s main source of income, the foundation of their entire business,” said Tristan West, who as dreamboytristan is a top creator of adult content on OnlyFans. “Me and a lot of people have got to do a lot of work to secure our business, move our assets, move our content to another platform. It’s not the end of the world, but this is a huge setback.”
West noted that other platforms are finding ways to monetize adult content as well, such as Twitter adding its paid follows and sites like PornHub building out direct monetization opportunities as well. But OnlyFans holds all the cards and will need to make that transition possible.
“I’d like to see them do what’s needed — it’s weird that they haven’t come to us and talked to us in any way,” said West. “Offer a quick option to download all your content on OnlyFans — that’s your asset, that’s your business. That’s the bare minimum that can do for creators.”
It’s a serious question whether OnlyFans will be able to survive this transition in any recognizable form. The choice to abandon their most lucrative and loyal segment of customers and creators may poison the well, with others declining to rely on a platform that failed to support others. Investors, once wary of the risk of putting money into a sex-adjacent product, may now be wary of paying to board a sinking ship. That $1 billion valuation may be farther away than ever.
The obvious and immediate answer from the tech community is to operate OnlyFans or something like it using cryptocurrencies, which are generally speaking not subject to these limitations. This may represent a way forward for the next platform, but for OnlyFans it may be too late to adapt.
“Thankfully, we have a couple months,” West said. “OnlyFans was the top platform in this market but they’re not the only one. It’s an opportunity for someone else to come around and do better for sex workers and online creators.”
This story is developing and may be updated in the near future with more information.
Pornhub was sued yesterday by 34 women alleging that the site hosted videos without their consent and profited from other nonconsensual content involving rape, child sexual abuse, and human trafficking.
Of the victims involved in the lawsuit, 14 said they were victims of people charged with or convicted of sex crimes, and 14 said they were underage in the videos served on Pornhub.
“It is time for the companies and individuals who have profited off of nonconsensual and illegal content be held liable for their crime,” one of the plaintiffs said in a conference call reported by CNN. “I joined the lawsuit because I seek justice for myself and the countless victims who don’t come forward.”
Refusing to discuss sexually explicit media won’t make it go away.
Despite all assertions that the site isn’t powered by its sexual content, the platform is synonymous with porn. What is it really?
The high-priced hustle of financial domination, where “pay pigs” send tributes to their cash masters.
Moon Hyeong-wook, 25, was accused of luring young women with promises of high-paying jobs and then forcing them into pornography.
The man accused of killing eight people at spas was a churchgoer who told officers he was addicted to sex. Parts of evangelical culture imply that sexual sins are more serious than others.
A tool that allows old photographs to be animated, and viral videos of a Tom Cruise impersonation, shined new light on digital impersonations.
As the publisher of a notorious sexually explicit magazine, he found himself at the nexus of a cultural and legal war and became an unlikely free-speech hero.
In the wake of recent allegations against Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek, senators from both parties have introduced a new bill that would impose sweeping new regulations on online sites, platforms, and apps that host adult content. Though the bill is meant to prevent exploitation and trafficking, critics argue that the changes would create significant new risks and costs both sex workers and the fewer remaining sites that would then host them.
Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday introduced the Stop Internet Sexual Exploitation Act (PDF), which they described as “groundbreaking legislation that would require all online platforms that host pornography to put in place critical safeguards to protect Americans from sexual exploitation online.”
The bill creates sweeping verification guidelines for any site that hosts adult material: any user who uploads material to such a site would have to verify their identity with the site, and every single video posted would have to come with a signed consent form from every individual who appears in the video. All pornography platforms would also be required to disable downloads of videos they host.
Adult video giant Pornhub this week announced that it has taken the unprecedented step of removing millions of user-uploaded videos. The move, which the Canadian-born site calls “the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history,” arrives in the wake of a New York Times opinion piece that stated the “site is infested with rape videos.”
Pornhub announced last week that it would be limiting uploads to only verified users. Now, as noted by Motherboard, the service has suspended all videos for the site not uploaded by existing partners or members of its Model program. Suspended content will be subject to review by Pornhub early next year.
The service noted in a statement that the new model is arguably the strictest instituted by a content platform. “This means every piece of Pornhub content is from verified uploaders,” it writes, “a requirement that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to institute.”
The Times offered reports — some first-hand — of graphic exploitation. “I don’t see why search engines, banks or credit card companies should bolster a company that monetizes sexual assaults on children or unconscious women,” Nicholas Kristof wrote. “If PayPal can suspend cooperation with Pornhub, so can American Express, Mastercard and Visa.”
Major credit card companies ultimately followed suit. Last week Discover announced that it would cut ties with the service, following similar moves by Mastercard and Visa. That added incentive no doubt further pressured Pornhub to take even more aggressive action than already announced.
In a statement, the site noted that watchdog group Internet Watch Foundation discovered 118 instances of child sexual abuse on the platform. The service calls the number “118 too many.” The service was defensive in its report, believing it has been singled out due to its focus on adult content.
“It is clear that Pornhub is being targeted not because of our policies and how we compare to our peers, but because we are an adult content platform,” the service writes. “These are the same forces that have spent 50 years demonizing Playboy, the National Endowment for the Arts, sex education, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and even the American Library Association. Today, it happens to be Pornhub.”
Why does Canada allow this company to profit off videos of exploitation and assault?
Cho Joo-bin was convicted of blackmailing young women into making sexually explicit video clips that he sold online.
The FBI is intensifying its worldwide search for Michael James Pratt, the New Zealand-born pornographer who created the controversial GirlsDoPorn website while living in the San Diego area. This week the FBI announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Nearly two dozen women sued Pratt and his associates for using fraud and coercion to get them to appear in pornographic videos. The women won a $13 million judgment in January, but by the time the ruling was announced, Pratt had apparently fled the country.
Meanwhile, the federal government charged Pratt with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion. Prosecutors later added child pornography charges because at least one of his victims was under 18.
The French parliament has agreed to pass a new law requiring age verification on pornographic websites to prevent access by children under 18, Politico reports. The initiative has the support of President Emmanuel Macron, who called for such a measure in January.
The French law gives sites discretion to decide how to perform age verification. Requiring users to enter a credit card number seems to be one of the most popular options.
According to Politico, the law gives French regulators the power to create a blacklist for overseas sites that don’t comply with the new rules. If a site doesn’t respond to a warning from French officials, they can “ask the Paris Court of Justice to send an order to telecom operators to block the access to these sites from France.”
However cooped up you may feel after months of bingeing films and TV series in quarantine, it’s not entirely likely that you’d look at this article’s headline and say, “Yes, I need to kick my viewing habits up a notch with a curated selection of homemade porn.” The people behind Hump!, the United States’ best-known amateur-pornography festival, certainly didn’t want things this way, either.
“One thing about Hump! is, if you couldn’t get to a theater, you weren’t going to see it,” series curator and sex columnist Dan Savage tells me over the phone from his Seattle home. “Ever since the first Hump!, people have asked, ‘Are you going to sell DVDs?’ Which turned into, ‘Can you watch it online?’ But you can’t. There are no DVDs, and you can’t see it online.”
Hump! was always supposed to be offline. But just like pretty much everything else this year, Savage’s creation had to concede to the realities of coronavirus. And after launching a test run earlier in 2020, Hump! Greatest Hits, Volume 1 is following as a streamed-video exclusive (not VOD) over the next three weekends. And while the festival was never designed for online distribution, the silver lining is a very weird, and surprisingly eye-opening, perspective on what porn on the Internet can look like in 2020.