Before Its Sex Content Ban, Anti-Porn Group Asked DOJ To Probe OnlyFans

Nine days before the content subscription service OnlyFans announced its upcoming ban on sexually explicit content, 102 members of Congress signed a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The August 10 letter cited data from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), an anti-pornography group. Its president has worked with two anti-LGBTQ groups on the religious right.

The letter noted that the NCOSE had "named OnlyFans one of the top contributors to online sexual exploitation in the United States." The letter also echoed NSCE's assertion that OnlyFans has "become a major marketplace for buying and selling Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in the United States, as well as soliciting sexual activity with minors."

The letter asked the DOJ to investigate the platform's CSAM content, especially content involving missing children. It also asked the DOJ to assess the platform's anti-CSAM measures and the use of its direct messaging feature in facilitating prostitution.

The letter said that over the last two years, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) indicated its awareness of 10 cases of missing children associated with OnlyFans content. Additionally, the NCMEC linked 80 cases of missing children to OnlyFans content.

The NCOSE's website raises similar concerns about the platform's intersection with sex work. In fact, it included OnlyFans on its Dirty Dozen List, an annual list of "mainstream facilitators of sexual exploitation." Its 2021 list includes Netflix, Google's Chromebook laptops and EBSCO, an academic database.

NSCOSE's website also has a petition where people can also ask the DOJ to investigate OnlyFans.

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A religious-right group called the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has been cited in a letter signed by 102 Congress members asking the Department of Justice to investigate child sex abuse material and sex work facilitation on the content subscription service OnlyFans. bpperry/Getty

The NCOSE is an anti-pornography group. It was initially founded by clergymen in 1962 under the name Morality in Media (MIM). MIM led numerous protests against adult shops, the sale of sex toys and other erotic media like the 1979 film Caligula and Madonna's 1992 book Sex.

In the '90s, MIM also aligned with religious-right groups to push abstinence-only sexual education programs in schools and a boycott against Disney. The groups opposed Disney for distributing non-children's films under its Miramax film label and for extending employee benefits to LGBTQ workers' same-sex partners.

In 2015, MIM reorganized as the NCOSE. The NCOSE drafted a Utah resolution declaring pornography as a public health crisis. Fifteen other states passed resolutions using similar language. The NCOSE has been accused by the anti-sex trafficking group, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, of "use misleading 'research reports' to fabricate a false medical consensus about the harms of pornography."

The NCOSE has also opposed the legalization of sex work, in opposition to the pro-legalization stance of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the World Health Organization. The three aforementioned organizations argue that sex work criminalization increases exploitation, abuse and violence against sex workers.

The NCOSE's current president, Patrick A. Trueman, is a lawyer dubbed a "porn war veteran" by the American Bar Association Journal. Trueman has previously worked for the anti-LGBTQ organizations, the American Family Association (AFA) and the Family Research Council (FRC).

Despite the AFA and FRC's affiliation with the Christian religious right, NCOSE told Newsweek that it describes itself as a "non-partisan and non-sectarian" organization.

"The fight to end sexual exploitation knows no political or religious boundaries," the NCOSE spokesperson told Newsweek. "The inherent harms and oppression of sexual abuse and exploitation impact people regardless of their age, nationality, race, sex, sexual orientation, or creed."

In April 2021, a Pornhub spokesperson told VICE magazine that the NCOSE's conflation of sex work with child sex trafficking "attracted and mobilized... extremists," including QAnon conspiracy theorists.

The QAnon believers had made posts on the right-wing social network Gab advocating for the murder of "whores, pimps," transgender individuals and executives of the porn streaming website PornHub. The NSOCE had previously advocated a campaign targeting PornHub as an alleged source of child trafficking and pornography.

Correction (8/20/2021, 11:08 p.m.): This article's previous introduction identified NSOCE as a "religious right" organization. The group is self-identified as a "non-sectarian" organization whose president has previously worked with groups on the religious right.

Update (8/20/2021, 11:08 p.m.):This article has been updated to include a statement from an NSOCE spokesperson.