Concerns About Child Sexual Abuse On OnlyFans

Concerns About Child Sexual Abuse On OnlyFans

If there’s something that benefited from the pandemic, it was the sex industry. Fear of contracting the coronavirus and lockdowns has made people stuck in their own homes. Amongst the things it had affected is their sex life. They were not able to go on dates or meet up with the ones they connected on Tinder. Even couples were dissuaded from touching each other. 

Social distancing measures made sex toys and sex dolls more popular than before. These products are excellent at providing sexual satisfaction, especially when the physical connection between humans is almost taboo. 

But aside from these products, online platforms also “won.” Porn sites may have gotten more traffic, but porn actors and actresses did not benefit much from the pandemic. It prevented them from going to shoots, where their income comes from. So they had to look for alternatives – something that is in line with their work but is not traditional porn. Adult entertainers went either to webcam modeling sites or to OnlyFans. The latter could possibly be the big winner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concerns About Child Sexual Abuse On OnlyFans

OnlyFans became so successful in 2020 that the phrase “exploded in popularity” could be an understatement. It now has users north of 150 million and more than 1.5 million creators. Also, OnlyFans reports that it pays its content creators $5 billion annually. 

To make the picture even clearer, we can look at Bella Thorne. She set a record when she became the first creator on the platform to make $1 million 24 hours after joining. Read that again: $1 million within one day. That’s way more than what a “regular person” can make in one month. 

But you haven’t heard of Bhad Bhabie yet. She made the same amount of money in just six hours after joining OnlyFans. However, that sparked criticisms online. The discussion revolved around how Bhad Bhabie just turned 18 that week. This controversy opened up more conversations about minors selling sex on OnlyFans.

Reports About Underage Creators on OnlyFans

OnlyFans requires creators to be over 18 to be able to sell content on the platform. It says that its age verification systems are going “over and above” regulatory requirements.

However, as per the investigation done by BBC News, this does not seem to be the case. It says that the platform is failing at preventing underage people from appearing in sexually explicit videos and selling them. The findings BBC got from its investigation were very alarming.

BBC News found an interesting 17-year old girl from England. She admits that she has used OnlyFans to make money from clips of herself playing with sex toys. 

So the BBC ran an experiment to test how effective OnlyFans’ age verification is. The news organization tried setting up an account for a minor by using an older person’s identification. And they succeeded.

Their collected stories also confirm that the verification system can be easily cheated. The police even said there was a case when a 14-year-old had used her grandmother’s passport. And she was not the youngest person on OnlyFans, according to BBC’s sources. According to Childline counselors, a girl told them that she first accessed the site when she was just 13 years old.

Also, according to Childline counselors, the underage creators on OnlyFans are often victims of prior sexual abuse. Joining these victims are those who have unstable mental health – some of which are having suicidal thoughts.

UK and US police forces attest to this. In the UK, police say children have complained about unauthorized uploading of their images on OnlyFans. A 17-year-old girl even reported that she is being blackmailed. Meanwhile, a US watchdog says reportedly missing children are appearing on OnlyFans. That hints at child sexual exploitation.

Concerns About Child Sexual Abuse On OnlyFans

But not all minors on OnlyFans were forced to join the platform. Schools have shared reports of pupils using OnlyFans. There was even a 16-year-old who told her careers adviser about it. The report said the teenager boasted how much she makes off of her content on the platform. Furthermore, it said the teenager is active on Instagram, wherein she shows off her “exuberant” spending.

OnlyFans said it could not respond to the reports BBC listed without the account details. But it said that its efforts to prevent child exploitation make these unlikely to happen. And if someone notifies the platform of such cases, OnlyFans take swift action and immediately bans the account.

Legal Investigations

While OnlyFans is a platform heavily focused on sexually explicit content, it is not where child sexual abuse flourishes the most. You can see it by looking at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reports.

The reports say less than 100 instances of child sexual abuse materials are uploaded on the site per year. Ironically, there are more cases on social media platforms that shy away from sex work. Micro-blogging platform Twitter accounted for 65,000 instances. Meanwhile, Facebook accounted for a whopping 20 million cases, which is 95% of the total recorded incidents. Both social media giants also outnumbered the 13,000 cases in MindGeek owned companies, which includes PornHub.

Even if the number of cases on OnlyFans pales in comparison against cases on the said platforms, it still begs for attention. So US Congresswoman Ann Wagner persuades the Department of Justice to investigate the platform for child exploitation. More than a hundred Congresspeople signed the petition.

Barely more than a week after Wagner announced the bipartisan coalition, OnlyFans announced that it would be banning sexual content. Real sex or simulated sex – masturbation, sex doll play -content will be removed from the platform from October 1 onwards.

Concerns About Child Sexual Abuse On OnlyFans

But OnlyFans quickly reversed the decision after it was met by a tremendous amount of backlash. CEO Tim Stokely says pressure from banks forced them to make the initial decision. 

Perhaps, the controversies about child exploitation dissuaded financial service companies from continuing business with OnlyFans. Everybody knows how ties between banks and credit card companies with companies in the sex industry can easily be severed.

The issue is still fresh. You can expect OnlyFans to appear a few more times on the headlines. OnlyFans users must always be aware, as any development will likely affect the future of the platform.

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