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OnlyFans to prohibit sexually explicit content beginning in October

The shift away from porn on the site comes amid pressure from banks

Image: Alex Castro / The Verge

Video sharing site OnlyFans, best known for its creators’ adult videos and photos, will prohibit sexually explicit content starting October 1st. First reported by Bloomberg, the company says it is making the changes because of pressure from its banking and payment provider partners, though a BBC investigation found that the company had been lenient on creators who had posted illegal content.

“In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of our platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines,” OnlyFans said in a statement emailed to The Verge.

Creators on the platform will still be allowed to post nude images as long as they comply with the site’s acceptable use policy. More information will be available in the coming days, the company added: “OnlyFans remains committed to the highest levels of safety and content moderation of any social platform.”

However, according to the BBC, the site’s moderation hasn’t been up to that standard. It reports that a “compliance manual” instructed employees to give users three strikes, even if the content that was being removed was illegal. The BBC also reports that more successful accounts, which had a larger subscriber base, were handled by a separate team and given additional warnings when they broke the site’s rules.

OnlyFans claims more than 2 million creators — who it says have earned more than $5 billion on its platform — and 130 million users. Last year, the site generated $2 billion in sales (of which OnlyFans receives a 20 percent cut).

The company is seeking investors at a valuation of more than $1 billion but has had difficulty attracting investors, according to a report from Axios, mainly because of the proliferation of porn on the site (Axios notes the company didn’t mention pornography at all in its pitch deck to investors).

Despite its ability to draw eyeballs, and the safer environment it provides sex workers, online porn is a hard sell for investors. Recall that as Verizon prepared to sell Tumblr to Automattic, the blogging site permanently banned adult content in 2018, a highly controversial move at the time.

Along with the announcement about sexually explicit content, OnlyFans published its first monthly transparency report for July on Thursday, “as part of our commitment to safety and transparency.”

Updated 9:40PM ET: Added information about the BBC’s investigation into OnlyFan’s moderation practices.