OnlyFans reverses porn ban after backlash from users

LONDON – OnlyFans said Wednesday that it had “suspended” plans to ban pornography in a stunning U-turn that came after violent backlash from its users.

A spokesman for the online subscription platform told CNBC that the proposed changes were no longer necessary “because of assurances from banking partners that OnlyFans can support all genres of creators.”

The London firm last week announced plans to ban porn from October 1st, citing pressure from its banking partners.

“Thanks to everyone who made your voices heard,” said OnlyFans in a tweet on Wednesday.

“We have received the necessary assurances to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1st policy change.”

“OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators,” added the company. “An official notice to YouTubers will be emailed shortly.”

OnlyFans’ decision to block sexually explicit posts was quickly condemned by sex workers, who were largely responsible for the platform’s success and relied on it for a source of income. The website enables adult performers to sell “unsafe” content for a subscription fee.

Founded in 2016, OnlyFans has grown into a social media powerhouse thanks to its looser approach to overtly sexual material. With more than 130 million users, 2 million content creators, and reported $ 150 million in free cash flow last year, OnlyFans has numbers many startups can only dream of.

OnlyFans has been trying to rebrand itself as a platform for all types of creators lately, claiming that it is used by everyone from chefs to musicians. Celebrities like Cardi B and Bella Thorne have even joined as creators. Still, porn is by far the most popular category on the site.

OnlyFans founder and CEO Tim Stokely said in an interview with the Financial Times this week that the company was forced to ban such content after being treated “unfairly” by banks.

Stokely cited JPMorgan, BNY Mellon and the UK’s Metro Bank as examples of lenders who have made life difficult for OnlyFans and sex workers. All three banks declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.

There has been speculation that several other factors were at play. For example, an Axios report last week said the company was struggling to find outside investment due to concerns about hosting adult content.

Stokely denied this, saying OnlyFans “did not make this policy change to make it easier to find investors.”

The OnlyFans founder also hit back on the suggestion that Mastercard might be behind the ban. The payment network will have stricter rules for adult merchants starting October 1st, the day OnlyFans should ban sexually explicit content.

Stokely said the company is already “fully compliant” with Mastercard’s new rules and they have “no control” over its policy change. A Mastercard spokesman told CNBC that the company had not contacted OnlyFans in connection with its decision.

“You made this decision yourself,” said the Mastercard spokesman.

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