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OnlyFans Suspends Explicit Content Ban, But Disabled Users Still Feel Betrayed

a phone screen showing the onlyfans logo in front of a computer screen open to the onlyfans log in page

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Key Takeaways

  • Last week, OnlyFans announced it would be blocking all sexually explicit content on its platform beginning October 1.
  • This explicit content ban was overturned on August 25.
  • The platform has already lost the trust of users, especially disabled content creators who can't work “traditional” jobs.

On Wednesday, content subscription service OnlyFans said it was suspending a previously-announced ban on sexually explicit content. The policy change would have come into effect on October 1, and would have adversely affected a particular group: disabled people.

The site, best known for hosting adult content, allows creators to sell video clips, photos, and messages directly to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis, working from their homes and on their own schedule. Customers pay between $5 and $50 and OnlyFans take a 20% cut. 

The platform particularly appeals to disabled people who find it hard to work more “traditional” jobs. It provides a steady stream of income with less danger, while allowing them to work their own hours, independently. 

COVID Boosts Business

OnlyFans experienced a boom in business during lockdown, quickly becoming the safest way for sex workers to make money without risking COVID-19 exposure. The Financial Times reported that the number of OnlyFans users grew from 20 million people before the pandemic to 130 million people by August 2021.

The company claimed it was under pressure from banking partners to remove sexually explicit content.

Michelle De Feo tells Verywell she uses OnlyFans as her main source of income because Lyme disease and endometriosis prevent her from doing other work.

"It was a great platform for me—even when I was ill, I could lay in bed and post content that I had made a few days before,” De Feo says, adding she was able to earn enough money to cover her mortgage, bills, and food thanks to OnlyFans.

For content creator Seraphina Skye, who has a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), the flexibility of OnlyFans helped her manage her symptoms.

"Being able to care for myself and listen to my body while actually accomplishing things is an incredible freedom," Skye tells Verywell. "I can spend one day doing something physically demanding, and then rest for as many days as I need to. Online content creation is the only thing I’ve ever been able to sustain myself with. As a disabled person, I never know what days I’ll wake up and not be able to get out of bed."

Symptoms of EDS

Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) encompass 13 different subtypes. Most types involve loose, unstable joints and fragile, stretchy skin. Symptoms of the most common subtype, hypermobile EDS, include:

  • Joint hypermobility
  • Joints that dislocate easily
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Dizziness and an increased heart rate upon standing
  • Mitral valve prolapse or organ prolapse
  • Problems with bladder control
  • Skin bruising

Creating content online has also been a massive catalyst in Skye’s journey of acceptance of their body.

“Even when I feel out of control with my symptoms, I have so much more respect for my body now. I’ve learned to respect my limits," Skye says. “I’ve learned that just because my body isn’t typical doesn’t mean it’s worthless.” 

Disabled Users Say Trust Is Gone

Disabled users say news of the ban felt like a blow.

“I felt shocked when I heard [the news]; how could they turn their backs on us like this?” De Feo says. “A lot of people’s mental health was affected by [the ban]—I know mine was.”

Skye describes feeling “heartbroken” at the news. ​​

"After a year of spending every single day on this site, building an audience and library of content, and giving OnlyFans 20% of everything I made, I was being cast aside," they say.

Following backlash from content creators and supporters across social media, OnlyFans reversed its decision and announced that it will not be banning sexually explicit content. 

Despite the policy U-turn, many sex workers plan to leave OnlyFans, Skye and De Feo included.

"I am currently in the process of transferring 1.3K pieces of content; I need to do every single picture and video individually,” Skye says. They think a ban will still happen sooner or later.

For De Feo, it is also too little, too late. She expressed concern that OnlyFans announced the ban reversal on Twitter first, waiting five hours to email creators.

"I have a feeling they may just drag the date of the ban out," she says. "In all honesty, I now don’t trust OnlyFans at all."

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  1. OnlyFans. How it works.

  2. National Health Service. Ehlers-Danlos syndromes. Updated February 6, 2019.