“Do you like my photos? Go to my OnlyFans page for exclusive content now!” It’s a phrase you may have seen on the social media pages of influencers and celebrities lately.
You then end up on OnlyFans, a British platform on which you pay to see – often sexually explicit – pictures of that person. The platform has grown enormously in recent months. Tens of millions of people worldwide purchase paid subscriptions to see more of the people they follow – often influencers, porn stars and celebrities.
The growth pays off for popular OnlyFans faces, but there are also risks.
According to The New York Times, the platform had more than 90 million users and more than 1 million image creators in December. A year earlier this was still 120,000. “That growth in users is not surprising. Everyone sat at home last year and was bored,” says NVVS sexologist Yuri Ohlrichs, who works at Rutgers, knowledge center sexuality.
The platform was also in the news several times through the accounts of celebrities. “Yes, of course they find that interesting, to see more than just the outerwear of someone you admire. Sex sells. “
The enormous increase in the number of OnlyFans creators already started during the first corona lockdown, says media scientist Linda Duits from Utrecht University. In the Netherlands it was mainly the sex workers who registered at the time. “The platform offered sex workers who were not allowed to work due to the corona measures a way to still make money.”
Ultimate earnings through fan base
But sex workers from other countries also moved to the platform. In the United States, new legislation played a major role in this: sexually explicit content on social media was banned, German explains. “As a result, sex workers left existing platforms and started looking for new ones.”
Influencers and celebrities also turn to OnlyFans, which has been around since 2016. “The revenue model of influencers is based on income from their fan base. The technical capabilities of OnlyFans, such as getting money for private messages, make it easier for influencers to make money from fans. That makes it attractive and so they can make the most of their finances. draw fans. “
There are also accounts that post episodes of shows or sell products. We, on the other hand, share sex tapes.
Esluna, who spoke with NPO 3 about her OnlyFans page last year, puts a lot of time into her account. “It’s not all about creating content, you also have to devise strategies. If visitors want to talk to me in private, they pay extra for it. Sometimes I put a preview on it and people can pay extra to see the whole video.”
She shares nude photos and videos and also goes live. “I try to give it an artistic charge.” But there are also people who don’t post sexy content, Lana, another creator, told NPO 3. “There are also accounts that post episodes of shows or sell products. On the other hand, we share sex tapes.”
Reality stars and influencers
To earn a hefty sum of money every month, you must already have a fan base. The platform does not have a timeline to feature profiles. You can only access a profile via a direct link.
“That’s why you see reality stars, or ‘new’ influencers, doing this a lot in recent months. The schnabbel circuit is down, they are not booked at clubs and therefore do not earn money from their limited fame. For them it is a favorable platform”, says German.
I went undercover in Telegram groups sharing entire dropboxes of sexually explicit footage from OnlyFans.
OnlyFans seems like a good economical solution for a group of people, but the platform also poses dangers. The NPO Radio 1 program Alicante last year researched the medium and found out that a lot of images are stored and distributed illegally.
“I went undercover in Telegram groups sharing entire dropboxes of sexually explicit footage from OnlyFans,” said editor Elif Kan.
Those groups consist of hundreds to thousands of members. “Someone buys a subscription and takes everything off and then distributes it illegally. That way you never know where all your photos and videos end up.”
A well-known phenomenon, says German. “This so-called (screen) capping is a problem that sex workers, who work via webcams or in porn films, for example, have been troubled for years. That will then appear on the free porn website Pornhub and they won’t earn anything from it anymore. Those images can also roam the internet for years. “
And that is a dangerous aspect that users should consider, says sexologist Yuri Ohlrichs on behalf of Rutgers. “It is normal that you want to use this or earn money in this way, but enjoy it in a healthy and conscious way. If you post a nude photo online, and it will have a life of its own, it will never go again. away. Realize that you are vulnerable. “