OnlyFans Bans Public Sex

The platform's recent addition to the rules forbids content that's shot "from a public place where members of the public are reasonably likely to see the activities being illustrated."
March 16, 2021, 1:00pm
​Aspen Eden posing in a forest.
Aspen Eden shooting in a forest. (Image courtesy Aspen Eden)

OnlyFans content creators can no longer share images and videos featuring sex in "public places," the latest entry into the platform's already lengthy list of content it forbids.   

The platform's terms of use now state that sexually explicit content that "was recorded in or is being broadcast from a public place where members of the public are reasonably likely to see the activities being illustrated" is no longer permitted. 

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As of archives saved in mid-February, no mention of public places was included in OnlyFans' Terms of Use, so this change is a new addition within the last month. [Update 3/19: After this article was published, an OnlyFans spokesperson told Motherboard, “Outdoor nudity is permitted on the platform so long as the content is legal within the jurisdiction of where the content is posted.” It did not explain why it removed outdoor content initially.]

Adult content creator Aspen Eden first noticed the change when OnlyFans sent her an email on Saturday, saying her outdoor content was in violation of the terms and was taken down, without warning. The email said that even areas that are far away from populated places is considered public nudity, and that nude photos outside are only allowed "if it is a private territory only," such as a private beach. But creators must provide proof of ownership or permission from the owner to post those images to OnlyFans. 

Eden told me that since most of her content is shot outdoors, she'll have to find a new platform for that work.

"My niche and content has always been centered around outdoor and nature content, explicit or not. All of my content was either created on private property, secluded areas deep in the mountains/deserts or national forests," she said. "None of my content was ever made in a public area with people around or the chance of people walking up. No parking lots, busy streets or public parks. I’ve never and would never want to put someone in a situation where they haven’t consented to seeing me nude." 

Sex in public is a common kink that's been around forever. Some of the earliest known pornographic films were shot outside: El Satario, which may be as old as 1907, is a silent film about fucking Satan himself in a meadow in Argentina, and A Free Ride, a stag film from 1915 that's regarded as the earliest American porno, features a roadside sexual encounter. People definitely boned outdoors well before these, of course, but these are some of the first times it was filmed for an audience. 

It's a misdemeanor in most U.S. states, under public lewdness and indecency laws. The definition of "public" and "lewd" vary between states, however, with some states defining it as public if passers-by can see it—but there are no federal laws against public nudity. 

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Eden said she suspects that OnlyFans' terms of service, which fluctuate often, are due to payment processors' strict rules that are biased against the adult industry. OnlyFans isn't alone in this: many adult content sites have similar rules that may seem subjective, but are guided by the whims of the banks that do business with those platforms. Obviously, anything remotely illegal, like public sex could be in some places, would be seen as risky to a bank.

Adult performer Cam Damage recently asked OnlyFans support for a complete list of banned phrases and types of content; the list the company gave them was lengthy. The full list included things that are clearly stated in the terms of use, but many more that aren't, such as knife play, bruises, spanks and pegging (unless they're not "violent," then they're allowed—but they don't give an example of a "violent" pegging or spanking), anything baby-themed like bottles, diapers, or baby powder, ashing cigars onto body parts, promoting or selling alcohol (what constitutes "promoting" isn't defined), and bondage—although some bondage is allowed, if "there are no signs of violence or suffering." 

Damage told me they wonder who is making and enforcing these rules, and why the lines are so blurry. Another OnlyFans rule against content that "causes or is calculated to cause inconvenience, or anxiety to anyone else or which is likely to upset, embarrass, or cause serious offense to anyone else" is similarly arbitrary and highly depends on the person viewing it. This rule, as several of OnlyFans' rules are, might be worded to help prevent non-consensual content on the site and help it get taken down, but for models who are trying to stay within the sites' terms, it's very vague.

"My feelings on the 'public place' ban are similar to my feelings as they relate to all other banned things," Damage said. "I understand bans are put in place to protect sites in accordance with rules set forth by payment processors. I don’t take issue there. It is what it is. Sadly for porn to exist at all on the internet, rules will be in place—and we have no choice but to adhere."