Dangers of Sex Work: Onlyfans and Underage Workers
OnlyFans is a site that is a source of pleasure for some, however, it can also be a danger to those who provide the services. OnlyFans is a social platform that allows users to upload images and videos for a return of a fee amongst their "fans." OnlyFans became a basis for the adult entertainment industry for not only sex workers and those previously in the porn industry, but for models and anyone looking to generate income for an exchange of fans unlocking their exclusive content. This subscription site was founded in 2016 by Tim Stokely in the United Kingdom under Fenix International Limited. Onlyfans grew its popularity throughout the pandemic's first wave due to the shutdown of bars and clubs. In order to post content on OnlyFans, the individual must post pictures or videos of themselves by enlisting a price and expiration date on the content they have posted. Creators have the option to go on live on the site and leave video recordings in order to interact with their fans. Many resorted to its online services for fans to get their "fix" and for their creators to monetize their content, yet with the uprise of Onlyfans, it shifted many sex workers or individuals who weren't in the sex industry to seek their services due to the wages it provided in a short amount of time.
OnlyFans has received glorification since launching its site and its increased growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic; this has also caused many underage users to create an account.“OnlyFans claimed to have 12 million registered users. In March 2020, Mashable reported that OnlyFans had 26 million registered users. However, by late August 2020, Variety reported that OnlyFans now had more than 50 million registered users” reported the Economist. Celebrities and social media influencers popularized OnlyFans as well as normalized the platform through various other apps such as Instagram and Twitter by promoting their exclusive accounts. Adolescents are then able to view their "idol's" content with a simple entry of a credit card payment. OnlyFans' terms and services outline that you must be the age of eighteen in order to register with OnlyFans by providing a selfie-and a government-issued identification card. However, this is susceptible to many faults, as many users are capable of bypassing their system. Yet, this safeguard was only introduced in May of 2019 to eliminate the underage users on the platform. However, many who are under the age of eighteen can still access these exclusive images and can distribute their own content, and receive compensation for their pictures and videos as well. OnlyFans became a basis for the adult entertainment industry for not only sex workers and those previously in the porn industry, but also for models and anyone looking to generate income for an exchange of fans unlocking their exclusive content.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made many people vulnerable to the praises that OnlyFans have to offer, although it's believed that many creators are safe in the comfort of their own homes uploading their own images without the concerns of being objectified by men either in clubs or outdoor spaces, it does have real risks making OnlyFans an unsafe platform for many of its users, especially for those underage. Due to controversy regarding OnlyFans, and the stigmatization of whether it's an actual job or for pure entertainment, many women have suffered through the penalties of being abandoned by their families and the professional consequences that may come along with it, due to relatives equating it to inappropriate content found exclusively on adult websites. Furthermore, the risk of being sex trafficked due to the rapid increase in their following causes unwanted attention from men for more drastic acts and non-consensual shared pornography circulating in sites other than OnlyFans. The commonality between many users on OnlyFans is their content being shared and posted on other pornographic websites for free of charge, without the consent of the creator, not only leading to public embarrassment as it's out of their control but also loss of wages. Creators can also be subject to "capping," a practice in which users take unauthorized screenshots or recordings and then share them elsewhere on the internet.
On a U.K. forum, another woman wrote: "I personally know of a friend who went down that route, made a decent amount in the first few months, only to be pushed to show her face and do more and more extreme acts to retain her subscribers who all ended up leaving anyway. She has now quit, but her videos are stuck on free porn sites and reposted on forums from time to time. Furthermore, recently it was reported that a 21-year-old woman in Australia who became a victim of doxing posted pornography on OnlyFans was followed and harassed by a man who went on to leak her personal information online. Though virtual sex work gives off the illusion that pictures are posted under the terms of the user, it's a real threat when users become victims of being doxxed. For instance, many tend to be at risk of losing their professional career due to uploading content on OnlyFans. Last April, a mechanic in Indiana lost her job at a Honda dealership after management learned she had an OnlyFans account; her story is one of many that OnlyFans creators have to face while working in the industry that causes them to face professional consequences, therefore eliminating any opportunity for individuals in the sex industry to work comfortably in a professional environment without the risk of being harassed, and lowering their opportunities to receive jobs.
Sex has become a commodity for many men and women with a quick search on an internet toolbar, though many have claimed to make profits off OnlyFans. This doesn't deny the fact that these jobs can come with detrimental long-term effects either personally or professionally, causing many to be shunned from their families, society, and jobs. With this, many have fallen under the dark side of what OnlyFans has to offer, allowing stalkers to access one's personal life and out them of their past time and disrupting their level of comfort and forcing them to extreme activities in order for them to generate more money. Overall, despite the overwhelming incidents that many users have to face while creating content for their fans, men and women, young or old, will still be viewing the content of those they desire despite the unnecessary precautions these content creators may face uploading on OnlyFans.
Under United States federal law 18 U.S.C. § 2251 outlines the sexual exploitation of children, describing the possession, distribution, and receipt of child pornography, as well as the production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United States in which many users and viewers are guilty of violating while subscribed to the OnlyFans platform. OnlyFans will most likely not address the issue, due to the amount of revenue they gain from underage fan creators. The site has prioritized profits once before, a 2019 interview with the New York Times, Tim Stokely, the C.E.O. of OnlyFans, expressed an interest in changing the platform from being associated with pornography to being a part of the influencer culture, yet they continue to distribute “porn like content” on their site.
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2021 Dirty Dozen List: OnlyFans - National Center on Sexual Exploitation. (2021). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://endsexualexploitation.org/onlyfans/
Jobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still Struggling. (2021). Retrieved 1 April 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/13/business/onlyfans-pandemic-users.htmlhttps://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8058201/Gold-Coast-woman-Fans-account-warns-women-revenge-porn.html
OnlyFans Statistics – Users, Revenue and Usage Stats. (2020). Retrieved 31 March 2021, from https://influencermarketinghub.com/onlyfans-stats/#:~:text=This%20was%20in%20