OnlyFans reported an increase in sign-ups early March 2020. However, there are concerns about the negative impact of OnlyFans as more underage persons are using this platform to sell sexually explicit content of themselves to make money. What then is onlyfans all about and how to restrict your kids from abusing the platform.
What is OnlyFans?
OnlyFans is an online platform and app created in 2016. Here, people can pay for content (photos, videos and live streams) via a monthly membership. The contents are mainly created by YouTubers, fitness trainers, models, content creators and public figures in order to monetise their services. It is also popular with adult content creators too.
OnlyFans’ minimum age limit
According to the OnlyFans policy, users must be 18 years and above to join the platform.
Concerns about OnlyFans
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the British-based site became increasingly popular for people who were unemployed or working from home. However, it is also increasingly popular among sex workers.
The BBC documentary, #Nudes4Sale, investigated and reported the rise of under-18’s selling explicit adult content online. The documentary found as many as a third of Twitter users who advertised explicit images were under 18.
Adding to that, a huge number of young creators use social media to sell nudes in exchange for money and other benefits. Twitter is also known to frown at anyone or material that features or promotes child sexual exploitation.
The company asked for “further information on the accounts found in the documentary that may have been linking to such content.
Snapchat told the BBC: “We strictly prohibit accounts that promote or distribute pornographic content. We do not scan the content of private accounts, but we continually look for ways to find and remove these accounts, including discussions with other platforms like Twitter.”
OnlyFans also operate as a subscription service, meaning that to access a Creator’s content, users must pay for it. If a young person has access to a credit card or other form of payment, they may subscribe to someone’s content without a parent knowing.
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UK law on Onlyfans
UK law states that you must be 18 and above to promote or distribute explicit content. But for now, there is no legal requirement for online platforms to track explicit content that could have originated from underage users. This implies that the creator of the content and the person that buys it would face criminal liability if any action were taken.
New laws under the Online Safety Bill also disclose that companies may be fined £18m or 10% of their global turnover if they fail to keep kids(underage) safe on their platforms.
Does OnlyFans have any safety measures?
In May 2019, OnlyFans rolled out a new account verification process which mandates a creator to provide a ‘selfie’ along with their ID in the image to prove their identity. Yet, research showed that underage users used other people’s IDs, creating accounts without a problem. This only imply that the age verification is not still strong enough.
In a statement to the BBC, OnlyFans said: “We constantly review our systems to ensure they are as robust as possible. If we are alerted to any underage individual who has gained or tried to gain illegitimate access to the platform, we will always take immediate steps to investigate and suspend the account.”
However, internetmatters disclosed that 17-year-old girl who said she managed to use OnlyFans for seven months. Although her accounts were repeatedly reported and shut down, she was able to use the ID of an older friend to sign up again.
Even though they didn’t look alike, she was successful. Because of examples like this, the site now requires users to pose next to an ID card and then submit a photograph holding it up to their face.
Why would teens/underage want to join OnlyFans desperately?
Teens may want to join as an ‘easy’ way to make money.
Some Creators can make as much as £30,000 a month. However, teens don’t understand that this is a very small percentage. Although OnlyFans is closely linked to adult content, other content does not require nudity or sexual acts to make money. Teens may see this as an opportunity for them.
A report by VoiceBox and OnlyFans, commissioned by Parent Zone, explores the idea in great depth.
How to protect your child and what to watch out for
- Reports reveals that underage use fake IDs and family members’ passports to set up account, so keep these documents safe and secure where possible.
- Upon registration, users need to provide their bank details to receive payments through OnlyFans. Ensure you have a parental lock or other settings disabled/enabled to manage access to your or their bank accounts.
- Underage users may be more vulnerable to sexual abuse. They may not understand why sharing adult content on the platform is harmful.
Therefore, it’s important to have honest discussions early on with your kids about the consequences of sharing sexual content. This might include talking about sexual predators, online grooming, blackmail or even how police may get involved if they are a perpetrator of ‘revenge porn’.
Also set privacy controls on their devices. Filter and/or block chosen sites or apps with your broadband provider.