OnlyFans’ proposed ban on pornographic content exposed the platform’s disregard for its creators

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For five days, the creator platform OnlyFans planned to ban sexually explicit content from its site over alleged pushback from financial institutions. This limbo not only unfairly threatened sex workers’ livelihoods but exposed just how vulnerable these creators are to the whims of their hosting platforms.

It’s common knowledge that OnlyFans owes its success to porn creators, who bring the platform not only traffic but loads of profit. But its temporary decision to ban explicit content reflects a moral outrage at porn and the sex work industry at large, as well as a disregard for the wellbeing of porn creators loyal to OnlyFans.

Without a doubt, some types of porn are harmful and discriminatory. The porn industry can be a dangerous and an exploitative environment when it’s abused.

Additionally, pornographic content can be harmful to minors—watching porn before having real-life sexual experiences can lead to unrealistic expectations and the internalizing of harmful, misogynistic views of sex.

But punishing all porn creators for the potential effects of their content on viewers isn’t right. People who choose to work in porn often have little to no control over who will consume it.

Furthermore, sex workers aren’t the ones responsible for regulating their viewers—it’s the distribution platforms that must step up their game.

Of course, without physically interacting with their users, it’s difficult for providers to regulate who’s accessing sexually explicit content on large-scale websites. People are more likely to leak content or to lie about their personal information on the internet.

Providers are legally obligated to remove harmful content from their platforms, as well as retract monetization and pursue legal action against the perpetrating creators, producers, and uploaders. A significant effort must be made to hold accountable the producers of racist and misogynistic porn, and to prevent the violent and harmful content from being shared in the first place.

Asking users to securely verify their age and identity is an easy process to implement through subscriptions and monitoring.

Yes, it’s more expensive to investigate the safety and the ethical aspects of the creative processes. OnlyFans went for the cheaper option: banning porn content completely to save resources.

The proposed blanket ban would’ve rid porn creators on OnlyFans of an accessible platform for their content. Creators would have been further marginalized, forced to work in other spaces that may be less legal and more unsafe.

Funneling resources into regulating content and protecting users on OnlyFans is money that must be spent. A safe platform reduces controversy for the porn industry while also allowing sex workers to thrive.

True, pornography can be potentially harmful when misused. But this fact doesn’t justify banning its production completely for those who make legal profit off it.

Platforms like OnlyFans must strive to effectively prevent sexual exploitation while also protecting the sex workers using their platforms—not only themselves.

—Journal Editorial Board

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