A Lawyer’s Thoughts on the OnlyFans Ban

OnlyFans is a subscription-based social media platform which among other things, currently offers adult content.

This week, the London-based company announced it will ban “sexually explicit” content as of October 1st 2021.

[Update- OnlyFans reversed its decision since this post was written]

Here are my thoughts. Here is the lesson that should be learned.

But first, What is OnlyFans?

OnlyFans is a site where fans pay creators for their photos and videos. Its creators cover a range of professions including photographers, cooks, personal trainers, fashion influencers and TV personalities. Now having said that, I’m told that it’s most most popular content is nudes and pornography.

So Why is OnlyFans banning content?

In a statement, OnlyFans said the “sexually explicit” content ban was to comply with the requests of its banking partners and payment providers. Many creators are not very happy about the upcoming ban. They say it’s going to put them out of business.

Some experts compare this ban to blogging site Tumblr’s decision to ban sexually explicit content in 2018. Tumblr, which was bought by Yahoo for $1.6 billion in 2013, sold for just $4.2 million in 2019.

I don’t know who this recent decision is going to affect the future of OnlyFans but, I do know the lesson to be learned here for creators is the following:

Read and understand the Terms of Service Agreement aka the TOS agreement. Most people don’t take the time to do this.

This agreement controls your use of the platform. It also dictates what the platform can and can’t do when it comes to making major changes to the platform.

In this case the TOS agreement allows OnlyFans to make these changes. They don’t need to check with their users. All they need to do is make the changes.

Is this fair? I don’t know. I’ll leave the answer to this question up to you.

But, this situation is a good reminder that if you’re investing time and money into building out a business or brand on any one particular platform, understand that pursuant to the TOS agreement, everything can change with one business decision by the platform owner or board of directors of a company.

The smart play for creators and other online business owners who rely upon social media platforms is to read and understand the TOS agreements and then plan their businesses accordingly.

If you have questions, reach out to me via DM via @MitchJackson on Twitter or here at my Streaming Lawyer blog.

Author: Mitch Jackson

I'm a California trial lawyer trying to fix the world one client, cause, and digital interaction at a time.

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