London, United Kingdom
|Owner||Fenix International Limited|
OnlyFans is an internet content subscription service and based in London. Content creators can earn money from users who subscribe to their content—the "fans". It allows content creators to receive funding directly from their fans on a monthly basis as well as one-time tips and the pay-per-view (PPV) feature. The website has 2 million content creators and 130 million users.
The service is popular with and commonly associated with sex workers but it also hosts the work of other content creators, such as physical fitness experts, musicians and other creators who post regularly online.
The website has been criticised for hosting child sexual abuse material, though the National Center on Sexual Exploitation reports negligible numbers of incidents in comparison to Facebook. A campaign to investigate OnlyFans began in the US Congress in August 2021. It was reported on 19 August 2021 that from October 2021 onward, OnlyFans would no longer allow sexually explicit material due to pressure from banks, but this decision was reversed six days later due to backlash among users and creators alike.
OnlyFans is mainly used by pornographic creators, both amateur and professional, but it also has a market with chefs, fitness trainers, and musicians. The company charges a 20% fee for all transactions made on the site.
OnlyFans was launched in November 2016 as a platform for performers to provide clips and photos to followers for a monthly subscription fee. Tim Stokely founded the company alongside his older brother, Thomas, with a £10,000 (US$13,271.96) loan from his father, Guy Stokely, who told him "Tim, this is going to be the last one". His brother became the company's chief operating officer and his father is head of finance for OnlyFans.
Two years later, Ukrainian-American businessman Leonid Radvinsky, owner of MyFreeCams, acquired 75% ownership of Fenix International Limited and became one of its directors. After this, OnlyFans became increasingly focused on not safe for work (NSFW) content and "gained a pop culture reputation for being a hive of pornography".
Amateur and professional sex workers were the "key drivers" of OnlyFan's initial growth. The site experienced further growth when rapper Cardi B and actress and singer Bella Thorne joined the platform. A trend on OnlyFans saw creators giving away sexual content in exchange for proof of charity donations, beginning with Kaylen Ward raising US$1 million in contributions to charity during the Australian wild bushfires in Australia in January 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns had significant impacts on OnlyFans' growth. Prior to this growth, the number of users stood at 7.5 million. New user and creator accounts increased by 75 percent from March to April 2020. Genres of content creators included personal trainers, gamers, musicians and fashion influencers.
After the site was mentioned by Beyoncé in the remix of the Megan Thee Stallion song, "Savage", in April 2020, CEO Tim Stokely claimed OnlyFans was "seeing about 200,000 new users every 24 hours and 7,000 to 8,000 new creators joining every day." It was reportedly a 15% spike in traffic after the remix's release. In the same line, "Savage" also mentioned Demon Time, a social media show. Shortly after the release of that song, OnlyFans announced a partnership with Demon Time to create a monetized virtual nightclub using the site's dual-screen live feature.
Bella Thorne set a new OnlyFans record when she earned over $1 million within 24 hours of joining the platform in August 2020 and more than $2 million in less than a week. She promised nude photos for $200 but instead only provided lingerie-clad photographs, leading to a large number of chargebacks. After this, new restrictions were introduced that limited the amount that other creators on the platform could charge and how quickly they could get paid, though OnlyFans stated the restrictions were unrelated to Thorne but rather part of "an evolving process". Thorne's actions caused backlash among sex workers who felt Thorne had selfishly appropriated their profession.
In late 2020, OnlyFans had 85 million users and more than a million creators. By March 2021, OnlyFans' user base topped 120 million and creators collectively earned $3 billion in revenue. OnlyFans states that it pays out more than $200 million a month to creators. In 2021, they reached a company valuation of $1 billion.
OnlyFans soft launched OFTV in 2021, an app and streaming site with a collection of its safe for work content. In the same year, professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., DJ Khaled and Fat Joe, and Terrell Owens joined OnlyFans. In March 2021, OnlyFans launched a creative fund to provide £20,000 grants to four emerging musicians in the UK, with Stefflon Don on the selection panel.
In April 2021, Bhad Bhabie broke Thorne's OnlyFans record by earning over $1 million in the first 6 hours. This event sparked criticism on social media about her subscribers given that she had turned 18 the previous week.
Concerns about child sexual abuse material
A BBC Three documentary alleged in 2020 that a third of Twitter profiles globally advertising 'nudes4sale' (or similar) belong to underage individuals, many of whom used OnlyFans to share their content. In May 2021, the BBC reported that OnlyFans was "failing to prevent underage users from selling and appearing in explicit videos" after an investigation. This included reports from UK Police, schools and Childline. However, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reported under 100 instances of child sexual abuse material on OnlyFans per year, while MindGeek-owned companies accounted for around 13,000 cases, Twitter accounted for 65,000 and Facebook accounted for 20 million instances.
On 10 August 2021, US Congresswoman Ann Wagner—known for introducing the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) bill—announced a bipartisan coalition pressuring the Department of Justice to investigate OnlyFans for child exploitation, citing increasing reports by law enforcement and child safety organizations that minors are being sold on OnlyFans, as well as instances of sex trafficking and image-based abuse. Over 100 Congresspeople signed the petition. The Christian pressure group Exodus Cry and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, founded as a Catholic organization, were cited as influencers in the campaign against the website.
2021 planned porn ban
Shortly following increased campaigning against OnlyFans due to concerns about child sexual abuse material, on 19 August 2021, the company announced that from 1 October 2021 onwards it will not be allowing sexually explicit content. The company pushed the update through a new Terms of Service Policy. The company would still have allowed nudity on some grounds.
The reason for this shift was initially reported as pressure from credit card companies including Mastercard, but CEO Tim Stokely later told Financial Times that it was due to withdrawn support from banks such as BNY Mellon and JPMorgan Chase, and that Mastercard had "no bearing on the decision". Stokely said that BNY Mellon had "flagged and rejected" each transaction from the company and that Metro Bank had withdrawn support abruptly in 2019.
The decision was met with widespread backlash by creators and consumers of OnlyFans. Six days after the initial announcement, OnlyFans said that it would be reversing the decision and that adult content would be allowed on the site indefinitely, citing that they had "secured assurances necessary" to do so.
In August 2020, Forensic News reported that the company is facing multiple allegations of fraud and theft after content creators and users said they had money stolen from their accounts. Radvinsky's previous business ventures were flagged by banks for indicators of money laundering.
There have been conflicting reports on the safety of the OnlyFans site in terms of personal safety and economic security. Creators have been stalked and harassed by clients, sometimes resulting in the leaking of the creator's personal information. Contributors to the site are hypothetically able to choose when and what they post and who receives it; however, the spike in users has caused competition and has forced contributors to post content that may be outside of their comfort zone to compete with others.
- Dickson, E. J. (18 May 2020). "Sex Workers Built OnlyFans. Now They Say They're Getting Kicked Off".
- "FENIX INTERNATIONAL LIMITED – company report". Dun & Bradstreet.
- Arceneaux, Michael (2020). I Don't Want to Die Poor: Essays. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-9821-2930-9. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
- Jankowicz, Mia. "We spoke to a woman earning more than $100,000 a year selling explicit content on OnlyFans — this is exactly how she makes her money". Business Insider. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
- Browne, Ryan (25 August 2021). "OnlyFans says it will no longer ban porn in stunning U-turn after user backlash". CNBC. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
- Bernstein, Jacob (9 February 2019). "How OnlyFans Changed Sex Work Forever". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "OnlyFans to ban sexually explicit content". BBC News. 20 August 2021. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
- Akhtar, Sinéad Baker, Allana. "OnlyFans no longer plans to ban porn, saying in abrupt U-turn that it wants to be a 'home for all creators'". Business Insider. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
- "Why did OnlyFans ban sexually explicit content? It says it's the credit card companies." CNN, 20 August 2021.
- "OnlyFans is the site where porn is more intimate than ever". Dazed. 19 January 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- "Porn app OnlyFans and platform JustFor.Fans stars share personal stories, paid sexual content creation, and the online adult entertainment marketplace". Esquire SG. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- Ryan, Paul (2019). Male Sex Work in the Digital Age: Curated Lives. Springer. ISBN 978-3-030-11797-9. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
- "British Pounds (GBP) to US Dollars (USD) Rates for 7/1/2016 - Exchange Rates". Exchange-Rates.org. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
- Patricia Nilsson. "OnlyFans blurs boundaries as lockdown demand drives success". Financial Times. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
- Thomas Brewster; David Dawkins. "The Shady, Secret History Of OnlyFans' Billionaire Owner". Forbes. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
- Radvinsky, Leonid. "About". Retrieved 11 June 2021.
A first-generation immigrant from Ukraine, technology was imprinted on Leo at an early age
- "FENIX INTERNATIONAL LIMITED – Filing history (free information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
- Joshua Zitser. "'Being made homeless is a perpetual fear': What it's like to risk everything just for posting on OnlyFans". The Independent. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
- Ifeanyi, KC (26 March 2021). "The NSFW future of OnlyFans, where celebs, influencers, and sex workers post side by side". Fast Company. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
- Henderson, Cydney (20 August 2020). "Bella Thorne made $2 million on OnlyFans under a week? What to know about the site". USA Today. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
- Nguyen, Terry (8 January 2020). "Nude photos raised over $1 million for the Australia fires". VOX. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
- "Donate $10 to Australia, Get a Nude Photo". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
- de Gallier, Thea (7 April 2020). "I make over £20k a month selling nudes online". BBC Three. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- Shaw, Lucas (5 December 2020). "OnlyFans Is a Billion-Dollar Media Giant Hiding in Plain Sight". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
- Martinez Dy, Angela (7 August 2020). "Bios, mythoi and women entrepreneurs: A Wynterian analysis of the intersectional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on self-employed women and women-owned businesses". International Small Business Journal. 38 (5): 391–403. doi:10.1177/0266242620939935. S2CID 221076567 – via Sage Journals.
- "'Everyone and their mum is on it': OnlyFans booms in popularity during the pandemic". The Guardian. 22 December 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
- "The 10 most innovative social media companies of 2021". Fast Company. 9 March 2021. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
- Rodgers, Daniel (5 April 2021). "What Will Be The Next Instagram For Fashion?". Vogue. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
- Chitrakorn, Kati (17 February 2021). "The next social media frontier for fashion". Vogue. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
- "What is OnlyFans, who uses it, and how does it work?". Pocket-lint. 19 August 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
- Ankel, Sophia. "Bella Thorne apologizes to OnlyFans creators after she banks $2 million in a week from erotic site". Insider. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
- Steadman, Otillia (14 May 2020). "Everyone Is Making Porn At Home Now. Will The Porn Industry Survive?". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Marlow Stern. "Beyoncé Gives Adult Site OnlyFans Big Bump With 'Savage' Remix Shout-Out". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
- "Beyoncé teams with Megan Thee Stallion on 'Savage' remix for charity". CNN. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
- "Demon Time and OnlyFans Launch New Virtual Night Club". Complex. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
- Spangler, Todd (26 August 2020). "Bella Thorne Breaks OnlyFans Record, Earning Over $1 Million in First 24 Hours". Variety. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
- Noor, Poppy (31 August 2020). "A Thorne in the site: the Bella Thorne and OnlyFans controversy explained". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Donaldson, Kaleigh. "Bella Thorne OnlyFans Controversy Explained". Screen Rant. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
- Carman, Ashley (1 September 2020). "OnlyFans confirms new caps on tips and pay-per-view content, but says the changes are unrelated to Bella Thorne". The Verge. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
- Clark-Flory, Tracy (1 September 2020). "Sex Workers Are Furious About Bella Thorne's Self-Serving OnlyFans 'Tourism'". Jezebel. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Russon, Mary-Ann (1 September 2020). "OnlyFans is ripping me off by capping prices". BBC News. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
- Steadman, Otillia (14 May 2020). "Everyone Is Making Porn At Home Now. Will The Porn Industry Survive?". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Tan, Gillian; Shaw, Lucas (16 June 2021). "OnlyFans Seeks New Funding at Valuation Above $1 Billion". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
- Song, Sandra (20 January 2021). "DJ Khaled, Fat Joe Have a Joint OnlyFans Account". Paper. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
- Young, Jabari (3 September 2021). "Former NFL star Terrell Owens joins OnlyFans". CNBC. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
- Griffin, Andrew (16 March 2021). "OnlyFans launches £80,000 prize fund for emerging musicians as it seeks to change its tune". The Independent. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
- Bruner, Raisa (27 April 2021). "OnlyFans: Boosting the creator economy". Time. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
- "Cash Her Online: Bhad Bhabie Breaks OnlyFans Record, Earning $1M in 6 Hours". Billboard. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
- "Bhad Bhabie Broke OnlyFans Record By Making $1 Million in 6 Hours". PAPER. 3 April 2021. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
- Morgan, Jessica. "This Documentary Reveals The Dark Side Of OnlyFans". www.refinery29.com. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- Titheradge, Noel; Croxford, Rianna (26 May 2021). "The children selling explicit videos on OnlyFans". bbc.co.uk. Additional reporting by Chris Bell. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
- Cole, Samantha (12 August 2021). "The Congresswoman Behind FOSTA Is Coming for OnlyFans". Vice. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- Evans, Alana; Stern, Marlow (20 August 2021). "The Real Reasons Why OnlyFans Is Banning Porn". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- "Congresswoman Ann Wagner Leads Bipartisan Coalition Calling For DOJ To Investigate OnlyFans For Child Exploitation". Retrieved 19 August 2021.
- Veljanovski, Lydia (20 August 2021). "Why Visa and Mastercard are being blamed for OnlyFans banning content". Newsweek. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- Brown, Hayes (20 August 2021). "Opinion | Cash, credit, and clout: Why OnlyFans is ditching porn". MSNBC. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- "OnlyFans bans 'sexually explicit conduct,' but nudity is still okay". Engadget. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
- Lyons, Kim (19 August 2021). "OnlyFans to prohibit sexually explicit content beginning in October". The Verge. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
- "OnlyFans founder blames banks for ban on porn". Financial Times. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
- Lawler, Richard (25 August 2021). "OnlyFans says never mind, it actually won't ban porn on October 1st". The Verge. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
- "OnlyFans now says it won't ban explicit content on Oct. 1". KMGH. 25 August 2021. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
- "OnlyFans reverses controversial porn ban". www.ft.com. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
- Saric, Ivana. "OnlyFans suspends plan to ban "sexually explicit" content". Axios. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
- Martin, Alexander (6 July 2020). "OnlyFans could be hit with bill for more than three years' worth of unpaid taxes". Sky News. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- Stedman, Scott; Pierce, Sophie (13 August 2020). "OnlyFans Faces Allegations of Fraud, Theft". Forensic News. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Robertson, Adi (27 August 2021). "The Payments Mess That Almost Scared OnlyFans Away From Sex Work". theverge.com. The Verge. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
- Stedman, Scott; Parnas, Aaron (3 March 2021). "Banks Flagged OnlyFans Owner and His Businesses for Potential Money Laundering, Underage Activity". Forensic News. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Bindel, Julie (15 April 2020). "There's nothing 'empowering' about the sex work on OnlyFans". The Spectator.