Last March, Allie Awesome, an adult-content creator, woke up one Sunday morning to check her DMs on OnlyFans, only to realize she couldn’t log into her account. Launched in 2016, OnlyFans is a social network that allows creators to monetize their content by selling directly to their fans for the cost of a monthly subscription. Awesome, who joined the platform last year, says it constitutes about a quarter of her revenue. When she couldn’t log in, “I knew something was up,” she says.

Awesome emailed customer support, only to be told her account had been deactivated due to evidence of a chargeback, a term used to describe a customer calling their credit card company to report a fraudulent charge after a purchase. “I was like ‘something is weird here,’ so I kept emailing them,” she says. “They were telling me it was permanently deactivated, there was nothing they could do, and my customers were being refunded,” which would’ve taken funds directly out of her balance (though her customers said they were ultimately not refunded).

Unable to figure out what to do, Awesome emailed Alana Evans, the president of the Adult Performers Actors’ Guild, and tweeted about the incident. A few days later, she received a message saying her account had been reinstated, and that the issue had been a “glitch” in the system. But by then, she had received dozens of messages from other adult performers saying similar things had happened to their OnlyFans accounts.

OnlyFans bills itself as a content-subscription service for influencers and creators to directly monetize their content. But historically, it’s primarily been known as a platform for adult-content creators, or anyone wishing to post content too racy for Instagram. (Little is known about its parent company, the London-based Fenix International Limited, though according to a New York Times profile, one of its directors, Leo Radvinsky, is the founder of adult-cam site MyFreeCams.) Creators take about 80 percent of their earnings, with OnlyFans taking a cut of approximately 20 percent.

“It has appealed to sex workers as it’s a better mousetrap than that of building your own website, finding a biller, doing all the admin work, and producing content. It also lowered the bar for sex workers to be able to profitably get into the game,” says Amberly Rothfield, an adult-marketing educator and consultant. “I am hard-pressed to find [an adult model] who isn’t using it anymore.”

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Sex Workers Built OnlyFans. Now They Say They’re Getting Kicked Off by EJ Dickson

May 18, 2020