According to some OnlyFans content creators, suspected human traffickers use the subscription content platform to repeatedly contact them and try to recruit them.
This isn’t the only way OnlyFans seems to be facilitating exploitation, though. Read on to learn more.
The rise of OnlyFans
In the last few years, the subscription content platform OnlyFans has carved a space for itself among the social tech giants. It now has over 170 million subscribers and 1.5 to 2 million content creators.
Many people consider consuming pornographic content on OnlyFans as a “more ethical” alternative to mainstream porn sites. Even so, this shift toward more explicit content on the site has been repeatedly met with criticism by content creators and third parties alike, bringing into question whether OnlyFans really is as safe and exploitation-free as people may believe.
A new report on sexual exploitation
Take a look at these facts from a recent report by a survivor-led anti-trafficking organization:
- More than half of surveyed OnlyFans content creators said they did not feel that OnlyFans does enough screening of content creators and subscribers during the site registration process.
- 30% of the surveyed content creators said they received private messages from suspected traffickers offering to manage their accounts for a portion or all the proceeds from their subscription revenue. Of those content creators, they shared that they had been messaged between three and 18 times, with an average of seven times.
- Survey respondents were asked why they stopped creating content on OnlyFans. The most common reasons were continuing to sell sex in person because it was more profitable (36%) and because safety concerns on the platform outweighed any potential benefits (23%).
- 30% of respondents said that they felt pressured by OnlyFans to create content. They all said this came in the form of repeated emails and notifications: “They send emails that if you don’t post they [will] take your account down,” a respondent said. This is coupled with the requests from subscribers for emotional labor and customized content, and traffickers pressuring their victims to create content when in-person transactions were slow.
Where are these concerning statistics coming from?
These findings were published in a December 2021 report by the Avery Center (previously known as “Free Our Girls”), a well-known survivor-led organization working with law enforcement and other support organizations dedicated to eradicating sex trafficking in the U.S.
These findings regarding OnlyFans’ content creators experience on the platform raise major concerns over what meaningful steps the platform is taking to prevent sexual exploitation, if any at all.
A closer look into the report
Entitled “OnlyFans Report: A Case Study of Exploitation in the Digital Age,” these findings are some of many the Avery Center has issued as part of the organization’s research arm.
In addition to research, the Avery Center offers multiple training and consulting services in its efforts to end commercial sexual exploitation including peer support groups, webinars, job training and financial literacy groups, and much more.
The Center says the OnlyFans report was “a year-long, mixed methods project to hear from content creators, understand perceptions of sex buyers, and utilize offender-focused tactics to identify potential instances of trafficking on the platform, and identify opportunities for cross-sector collaboration that center lived experience expertise.”
Some of the methods used included surveys from content creators, an observational study, participation in law enforcement intelligence gathering, and review board where content creators and sex buyers discussed interactions on OnlyFans.
Broken down into three main areas, the report addresses:
- Content creators experience with OnlyFans as it relates to exploitation
- OnlyFans’ use as both a ramp into and ramp out of in-person sex transactions
- OnlyFans’ low return on investment for most content creators
Finally, some tips and resources are listed in the report for financial institutions, law enforcement, social media platforms, and direct service providers.
In addition to the statistics listed above, some of the other key findings centered around third party traffickers and minors, and the interconnectedness of social media platforms and trafficking.
Consider this: 11% of survey respondents said they were aware of minors who had Only Fans accounts, and were personally aware of at least 35 minors who had had content of themselves sold on the platform. Six percent stated that their traffickers helped them “create and market their OnlyFans content.”
Another point the report emphasizes is the interconnected of the platforms, which acts as a double-edged sword. It allows exploitative content to flow between social media sites, but can also also serve as a way to track content and help law enforcement stop trafficking if the platforms work together.
A note of hope
All in all, this report by the Avery Center brings to light some concerning realities regarding trafficking that are present on OnlyFans.
Sexual exploitation, especially of minors, is no light matter, and is something the report’s findings mention is interconnected throughout media platforms.
Efforts like those by the Avery Center to support survivors and work with law enforcement and other institutions to combat traffickers are critical. That includes research efforts like this report, given the difficulty in attaining data about individuals involved in the sex industry.
With more information comes the opportunity to raise more awareness, stopping the demand for sexual exploitation.
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