Sex Workers Still Feel Brunt of OnlyFans Porn Ban Announcement
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Sex Workers Continue to Feel the Brunt of Last Month’s OnlyFans Porn Ban Announcement
It’s been a month since OnlyFans reversed its controversial decision to ban pornographic content mere days after the initial ban announcement. The sudden reversal unleashed a flurry of commentary on the nexus of sex workers’ rights, cyber sexual exploitation, and digital platform banking.
The news cycle may have petered out on OnlyFan’s porn policy U-turn, but sex workers continue to feel the effects of the ban’s announcement and, frankly, there’s a lot more to be said about this story.
Pressure from Payment Vendors
In an interview with the Financial Times, OnlyFans founder Tim Stokley said the decision to ban porn was based entirely on complying with banks in order to use their services. Stokley also asserted in the interview that the company “had no choice” and named a few banks refusing service, including Bank of New York Mellon, Metro Bank, and JPMorgan Chase. (It’s also worth nothing OnlyFans was having trouble seeking investors because of this).
In March, we actually wrote about the digital porn industry and the ways in which mega tube sites were allowing rampant sexual abuse on their platforms while also draining profits from sex workers. While the details of tension between OnlyFans and the aforementioned banks remain somewhat vague, last winter Mastercard and Visa cut off services from Pornhub after it was reported that the website was hosting videos of child abuse and non-consensual content. While the author of the article, Nick Kristof, is a notorious anti-porn/anti-sex-work goon, it’s not hard to find outstanding evidence of Pornhub’s negligence.
Pornhub ultimately made changes to its content moderation (though notably didn’t shut itself down) following the pressure from Visa and Mastercard. As part of this overhaul, Pornhub also created a program where trusted child safety organizations have direct access to moderators, allowing them to swiftly address flagged content.
Despite these announced changes, we still curated a list of Pornhub alternatives to consume pornographic content in a more responsible manner. Full disclosure: We had even recommended OnlyFans on our curated list because of the homemade content and direct creator-to-fan dynamic. (Though OnlyFans takes 20% of all creator payments).
Unfortunately, in the months following our post, reporting has since emerged that OnlyFans fails to moderate its platform for underage and abusive content in a manner similar to PornHub. In May, the BBC reported that OnlyFans was failing to flag and ban underage content from its site (including sexual content of missing children and nonconsensual content). Then in August, leaked internal documents revealed that OnlyFans has some “tolerance” for illegal content that was posted by lucrative accounts. The very say day the story was published, OnlyFans announced its pornography ban.
Sex Workers Still Lost Out
It can’t be overstated that sex workers have made OnlyFans into the success that it is today. But this latest debacle has had a disastrous impact on content creators and has highlighted the lack of recourse available to them when platforms make decisions that threaten their livelihoods.
Following the initial porn ban, sex workers on OnlyFans scrambled to migrate their content and seek alternatives as their incomes were suddenly in jeopardy. Feelings of betrayal ran high: How could a company cut off the very workers who had built it from the ground up?
Even though the decision was later flipped, the harm had already been done. Sex workers felt, righteously, like they were disposable. Meanwhile, the consequences of the ban announcement hit hard as income was lost, subscriber rates plummeted and consumers became confused about the platform’s policies.
The sense of betrayal still stings a month later. The ban reversal did not assuage fears of security being taken away, creators are reporting serious burnout, and the whole situation is a reminder that their future on the platform is uncertain. It’s unclear what OnlyFans plans to do in order to gain back trust from the sex workers who built it, but it’s unfortunate that the company’s recent actions reflect a larger social disregard for sex work.
Security and Surveillance Headlines
[Vice] This week, Amazon unveiled a slew of hardware products targeting personal fitness, home security, and video communication. There is also an expensive robot named Astro that rolls around and harasses intruders. What Vice reveals through leaked documents and their reporting is that Astro has plenty of privacy issues too: from inaccurate facial recognition to its “intruder” detection system.
[Microsoft] Microsoft announced a rather interesting program that could potentially give IT defenders a saving grace from attack. Dubbed “Exchange Server Emergency Mitigation,” Microsoft says they will send out pre-release security updates to their customers in the event of a widespread emergency.
[How-To Geek] Tech do-gooders (and Firefox developer) Mozilla are accusing Google of slipping even more surveillance technology into the latest version of the Google Chrome browser. Through a new API, Chrome is now giving the ability to alert when a web user is “idle.” Mozilla claims this will open up ad tech companies to deploying additional tracking on idle users.
[FingerprintJS] Hot off its release, it looks like Apple’s iOS 15 is already running into security issues. A major feature, Private Relay, seems to suffer from a vulnerability as identified here by FingerprintJS.
[Bleeping Computer] In the wake of criticism toward’s Apple’s security disclosure program, a vulnerability and then-undetected proof-of-concept was released online.
Silicon Valley Shenanigans
[The Information] Instagram wanted to make a version of its app for kids (targeting ages 13-18 years old). The Information has the scoop on the ensuing backlash, and eventual backtracking on Facebook’s part on making the app.
[Wall Street Journal] In a series of damning reports, The Wall Street Journal has assembled a bleak picture of the inner policy decisions at Facebook, depicting a world where idle executives stand by while the platform propagates hate speech, misinformation, and targeted attacks.
[The Verge] As Apple suffers from an information leak problem of their own, Tim Cook admonishes employees against leaking, according to a leaked memo.
[Vice] In a series of leaked training videos, Apple’s repair program is revealed to be extremely designed against allowing third-party repair or support.
On Our Radar...
[Wired] A new app called Nahoft is helping Iranians circumvent censorship by allowing for coded transcription of messages.
[Politico] Could lobbying have helped sex workers? As sex work industrializes, it’s only natural that they get more representation in the method that Washington seems to recognize the most.
[Yahoo! News] Yahoo has a story claiming some pretty wild details about how the CIA planned to kidnap or kill Julian Assange following Wikileak’s publication of the CIA’s Vault 7 material.
[arsTechnica] Oakland was considered to be the standard in community-led law enforcement policy. But after years of misreporting by Oakland PD, it’s clear that it is not as effective as many claim, even as 20 other cities implement similar practices.
[Protocol] Protocol makes some great points in this piece examining how Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are used by corporate management as mechanisms to defend the company, not protect diverse employees.
[Fast Company] This profile on Dantley Davis, the Chief Design Officer at Twitter, is an interesting read detailing the executive’s vision for a less toxic online experience as well as a less toxic workplace. The results of his work have produced several small tweaks to the platform, product, and app.
Hate speech website: great-replacement[.]com
Who hosts: Amazon Web Services
Today’s site is great-replacement[.]com. They host content related to the white nationalist theory of “the great replacement.” On Reddit, references to it are highly saturated in neo-Nazi material. There also appears to be an actual Nazi who promotes it.
We have observed that great-replacement[.]com resolves to an IP address hosted by AWS, at 52.219.98[.]224.