Sexual exploitation and abuse on OnlyFans: they filter the platform’s darkest secrets

Since its launch in 2016, OnlyFans has become a very popular and profitable business among its millions of creators who charge for exclusive online content (photos, videos, and live streams) through a monthly membership. According to its policies, users and subscribers must be 18 years of age or older.

As is known, much of the content disseminated by video creators to OnlyFans subscribers is from sexual content. In fact, the tool is extremely popular with youtubers, fitness trainers, models, sex workers, actresses and adult film actors.

However, documents leaked to the BBC reveal how the platform prefers to keep certain “Tolerance” with accounts that publish illegal content, for being very profitable, rather than closing them. In addition, it was learned that the site did not prevent those under 18 from selling and appearing in explicit videos, despite being prohibited.

The British-based site has more than 120 million subscribers, who pay a monthly fee and tip “creators” in exchange for videos, photos and the ability to send them private messages. OnlyFans takes the twenty% of all payments.

OnlyFans moderators told the BBC that they have found advertisements for prostitution services, sexual exploitation, abuse and even material that appears to be incest. Likewise, the leaked documents show that you have illegal content are not automatically closed.

For its part, OnlyFans ensures that the videos have been removed and that the leaked documents are not manuals or “official guides”. “We do not tolerate any violation of our terms of service and we take immediate steps to maintain the safety of our users,” says the company.

Among the findings revealed by OnlyFans workers is a video of a man who pays homeless people to have sex with him in front of the camera, that of another subject who ate feces, that of abuse of pets, and one of use of spy cameras, guns, knives and drugs.

Cristof, as he calls himself a moderator, says that some days, when searching for prohibited content on the site, he has seen 2,000 photos and videos of that caliber. He has even discovered that some creators organize contests to meet and have sex with a certain fan as a way to increase your profits.

The documents reveal that the prostitution ads on OnlyFans are found in the creators’ usernames, in their biographies, content descriptions and “suggestion menus.” They include references such as “PPM, or pay per meet (payment per meeting)”, “CashMeetd”, “Reserve me”, among others.

OnlyFans claims that it abides by the terms of service, uses human and technological forms of restraint, and closes accounts when it identifies a serious violation. But the leaked information reveals that although it removes the illegal content, it first sends them to the creators. multiple warnings before closing your accounts.

Documents leaked in February this year revealed that OnlyFans recommends first sending three warnings to accounts when illegal content is discovered rather than closing them immediately.

It was also discovered that the platform gives specific instructions to moderators to manage accounts, depending on your popularity. For example, it allows accounts with a higher number of subscribers to receive additional warnings when they violate the rules.

However, staff are instructed to moderate accounts with a low number of users “and restrict them when necessary.” With mid-range accounts, they are instructed to warn first. “Just restrict after the third warning.” the manual says.

If one of the most successful and profitable creators on the site breaks the rules, the account is managed by a different team. “There is a discrimination between accounts,” says Christof. “It shows that money is the priority”, sentence.

A content moderation expert says the documents clearly show that OnlyFans maintains a “certain tolerance” for illegal content.

“This suggests that they know so well the type of illegal content that their users try to upload that they have templates,” explains Dr. Sarah Roberts, co-director of the Center for Critical Consultation on the Internet at the University of California, Los Angeles, to the BBC.

Detective Joseph Scaramucci, who works in Texas, USA, claims that he has recently seen specific cases of human trafficking where you have identified obvious signs of women under someone else’s control in OnlyFans videos.

Special Agent Austin Berrier, from the US Department of Homeland Security, specializes in investigating child exploitation online and estimates that between 20 and 30 images of child abuse circulate a week, the causes, according to him, originated at OnlyFans.

He reports that almost every online forum he has visited as part of his investigations in the last six months has included OnlyFans child abuse images.

Most of them are videos that were streamed live on the site. In some of them, the children receive instructions, says the authority. “It’s available there, everywhere, and it’s widely marketed,” he adds.

OnlyFans maintains that all content can be reported by moderators, and that the company complies with anti-trafficking laws and provides annual training to its staff.

According to the Axios news and information site, the value of content distributed through OnlyFans reached $ 2.2 billion in 2020 year in which millions of people were unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Likewise, the platform calculated that this value will multiply to 12,500 million in 2022.