- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A leading women’s advocacy group is calling out the OnlyFans website, saying the content subscription service has no plan to address child sexual abuse and human trafficking since it has reversed its decision to weed out pornographic content.

“What is glaringly missing is any serious commitment or outline by OnlyFans about how it plans to stop the criminal activity, sexual abuse and exploitation — including of children — that it is hosting and profiting from on its site,” Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), told The Washington Times.

OnlyFans spokeswoman Ami Gan said the London-based company protects minors by requiring users be over 18, following the five-government agreement “Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse” and weeding out content that contains violence, trafficking, solicitation and child sexual exploitation.

OnlyFans has developed and implemented robust measures that guard against illegal and exploitative conduct to ensure the safety and well-being of our community,” Ms. Gan said in an email. “We work diligently to prevent, detect, block and report any suspected child sexual exploitation to law enforcement and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] globally.”

But NCOSE Vice President Haley McNamara has claimed that OnlyFans’ verification policies “are useless in practice, given that a BBC investigation revealed that a 14-year-old was able to use the passport of her grandmother to create an OnlyFans account.”

“If OnlyFans couldn’t distinguish between a girl fresh out of middle school and her grandmother … this ‘verification’ system is systemically flawed,” Ms. McNamara said in an Aug. 25 statement following the company’s reversal. “And this problem is inherent because OnlyFans allows user-uploaded content, like other pornography tube websites, with weak age or consent verification of those depicted in the material. This problematic policy creates a platform that is rife for abuse and criminality.”

Human trafficking and child abuse watchdogs had applauded the Aug. 20 announcement that OnlyFans would ban live sex acts and other hardcore content from its platform, under pressure from its banking partners, starting Oct. 1.

But on Aug. 24, OnlyFans reversed its decision after citing new assurances from banking partners, and thanked its users for protesting the proposed change on social media.

The website allows monthly subscribers to view videos and pay-per-view sessions by a range of content providers such as golfers, chefs, makeup artists and artisans.

Launched five years ago, OnlyFans saw a huge profit spike during COVID-19 lockdowns due to quarantined sex workers selling livestreamed videos.

NCOSE has placed OnlyFans on its 2021 “Dirty Dozen List” of mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation, accusing the website of profiting from COVID-19 financial insecurities to exploit the bodies of women and minors with the promise of easy income.

Asked for comment about possible sex crimes on the OnlyFans platform, a spokeswoman for the site’s British financial partner, Metro Bank, said it had chosen not to engage or comment on the topic.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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