OnlyFans isn’t for Bella Thorne or any other celebrities

The platform is a haven that keeps sex workers safe from physical harm, but not from exploitative celebrities

Celebrities are hurting regular creators' earnings.

In an age when the majority of social media platforms censor sex workers and challenge their livelihood, OnlyFans seemed like a saving grace—that is, until it was exploited by Bella Thorne. 

Since its creation in 2016, OnlyFans has offered a safe space for sex workers to subsist. Unlike several other sites which feature pornographic images and videos, OnlyFans offers a platform for sex workers and users to display and consume intimate, realistic NSFW content. 

Whereas sites like Pornhub, RedTube, and Tumblr (before it was censored in 2018) are filled with aggressively sexual content that can be intimidating to users, OnlyFans features content produced by the creators themselves. In contrast to the sometimes violent or upsetting sexual spectacles featured on mainstream porn services, OnlyFans offers users a place to consume pornographic content that conveys the intimacy required for a realistic fantasy. 

The intimacy OnlyFans brings to its users has continued to propel the platform into the realm of mainstream media, where it’s caught the attention of celebrities. Most notably, well-known American actor Bella Thorne joined the platform in August. 

With OnlyFans having  mass appeal on the basis of insight into the otherwise private side of people’s lives, the addition of celebrities to the platform seems to be something that would be in high demand. However, the participation of celebrities on the platform poses significant risks to working-class sex workers.

For many sex workers, OnlyFans has also become an essential facet of their livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a time when physical contact can present a significant risk to a person’s health, the platform has stepped up to fill the gap. 

By bringing sex work into the virtual realm, OnlyFans offers not only a place for sex workers to continue earning an income without the risk of contracting the coronavirus, it also alleviates some of the risks associated with in-person solicitation, such as violence and assault. 

OnlyFans has contributed greatly to the normalization of sex work and promoted more constructive and positive dialogues surrounding the field among young people. Creating content for large scale platforms such as PornHub drastically inhibits one’s ability to earn money, but content creators on OnlyFans are often directly in charge of how they present themselves online and have full control of their income from the platform. 

The positive impact of OnlyFans for sex workers is obvious when looking at its numbers: as of May 2020, OnlyFans had 24 million registered users, and claimed to have paid $725 million to its 450,000 content creators.

When Bella Thorne joined the platform this summer, she made $1 million on her first day posting content, shattering earning records for all users. Thorne was alleged to be charging fans $200 for a single pay-per-view photo.

Fellow OnlyFans creators are suspicious that new policies implemented by the platform are in response to Thorne’s massive and unprecedented earnings. 

Creators are now only permitted to charge $50 USD for exclusive content, and tips are being capped at $100 USD where no previous limit existed. OnlyFans also imposed a new holding feature on funds in some countries, where funds would only be paid to creators 30 days after users made their initial payments. 

If the demand for exclusive content from celebrities becomes greater than the demand for content from everyday people, OnlyFans will no longer be sustainable to the average sex worker. Whether celebrities are sharing explicit content or not, revenue that goes to them is ultimately detracted from regular content creators who use the platform as their primary source of income.

In its current state, OnlyFans has become a hub for sex workers to make money safely and consistently. Celebrities like Bella Thorne, who have ample funds and platform, have no place gentrifying the site and charging exorbitant amounts of money for subscriptions when they have plenty of other avenues they can use to interact with fans. 


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