Love Island star and sex columnist Megan Barton-Hanson has condemned a decision by content subscription service OnlyFans to ban sexually explicit content on its site, accusing it of treating sex workers unfairly.
According to a report released on Thursday, the London-based company said that it would prohibit "sexually explicit content" starting in October. Nude photos will be allowed if they are consistent with OnlyFans’ guidelines.
“I am disappointed Only Fans have decided to remove all sexually explicit videos,” Barton-Hanson told VICE World News. “It used to be a beacon of hope in my eyes and I thought that stigma around sex work would be diminished but now it feels like we are back at square one. Sex workers have always been treated unfairly and this is another example of that.”
Barton-Hanson, who reportedly makes hundreds of thousands of pounds a month from her OnlyFans, says is concerned of the effect this will have on the sex worker community.
“I am worried about those content creators who will be affected,” she said. “It seems so unfair. OnlyFans has been a really safe way for people to sell their images and earn money from home. During the pandemic, this has been a lifeline for so many.”
Many sex workers turned to OnlyFans during the pandemic in order to safely make money without in-person contact.
Sex workers who flocked to the site during the pandemic have also expressed anger at the decision, accusing the company of disregarding a user base largely responsible for the company’s rapid growth.
“Sex workers have made billions for the site and they built it so it's not fair that we're constantly living under this threat of everything being taken away,” Elise Kennedy, a sex worker who makes her entire income from only fans told VICE World News.
“It just feels like a bomb going off but we can't see anything, because there's no clarity on the situation,” she said. “If they kicked off all the sex workers, the platforms wouldn't exist anymore.”
Sarah, who gave only her first name as she prefers to remain anonymous in sex work, said that this would make her work more dangerous.
“[OnlyFans] is the only way I found to make money, and I didn’t have any alternative,” she said. “I don’t know what to do now. I will have to start all over again. This ban won’t stop trafficking or prostitution but it will make it harder and dangerous for women like me to work.”
“It feels like this is a big slap in the face,” Laura Watson from the English Collective of Prostitutes said. “OnlyFans have made a lot of profit from sex workers specifically in the last year and a half when many women turned to that platform specifically to keep afloat during the pandemic when their income was completely cut off overnight.”
“When there are still no alternatives – there's no government help, and there are no financial alternatives – we don’t think it's fair,” said Watson.
The charity is concerned about whether this will push women into more precarious positions in the sex work industry.
“We're very worried about what women will have to do as an alternative, and the destitution that women may face as a result of not being able to make an income,” she said.