Why Is OnlyFans Banning Content? Visa and Mastercard Blamed for Shock Move

OnlyFans, the pay-to-view service once credited with revolutionizing the adult content industry, is now set to ban "sexually explicit content."

The move comes into force on October 1, and will desecrate the livelihoods of the many sex workers who popularized the website.

In a statement, OnlyFans explained: "In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of our platform, and continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines."

But why is the subscription site, which has grown in the pandemic to over 130 million users, stepping away from pornographic imagery?

Well, in its statement the platform explained: "These changes are to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers."

OnlyFans has been facing increasing scrutiny from payment providers regarding their content.

In April MasterCard announced a change to their policy, which requires "the banks that connect merchants to our network... to certify that the seller of adult content has effective controls in place to monitor, block and, where necessary, take down all illegal content."

These changes are to come into fruition on October 15 and include age and identity verification for content creators, a content review process before publication, complaint review processes within 7 days and a stringent appeals process for content to be removed.

Mastercard's decision was lobbied for by Conservative groups such as National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), formerly known as Morality in Media, and Exodus Cry.

They have been targeting payment processors and credit card companies that work alongside pornographic sites, under the guise of abolishing sex trafficking and exploitation.

When news of OnlyFans' ban broke, NCOSE released a statement explaining: "The announcement made by OnlyFans that it will prohibit creators from posting material with sexually explicit conduct on its website comes after much advocacy from NCOSE, survivors and allies."

But it is not just Mastercard that are making trading difficult for the online sex industry, for in December 2020 the card company stood with Visa in banning payments to MindGeek, the parent company of pornography site such as PornHub.

This was following allegations that they were hosting revenge porn, which is sexual imagery shared without the consent of the people who feature in it.

The card companies only revoked the ban when unverified videos were deleted.

This landscape, combined with the fact OnlyFans has also battled with higher processing costs from Visa and Mastercard because they charge more for those in the adult industry, has led to a ban on explicit content.

Myles Jackman, an obscenity lawyer who specializes in cases related to pornography, tells Newsweek that the platform "has taken what appears to be the path of least resistance and transformed from a sex workers' site to an influencers' site."

He explains while the actions of credit card companies has resulted in the ban, they were put in a "very difficult position."

"They are commercial entities—risk-averse—and very aware of the temperature in America around sex trafficking as it is perceived to be a big problem.

"They do not want to be accused of benefiting or financially engaging in sex trafficking.

"They're being lobbied by anti-porn interests, which usually is a strange conference of radical feminists and fundamentalist Christians who just object to pornography."

Newsweek has contacted OnlyFans, Mastercard and Visa for comment.

Woman wearing red heels
A stock image of a woman wearing red heels. OnlyFans are set to ban explicit content due to mounting pressure from payment providers. Getty Images