No, OnlyFans Is Not Safe: Sex Trafficking And Child Exploitation Are Happening On OnlyFans

Is OnlyFans safe? According to a study and several reports, it probably isn’t. Social media often glamourizes sex work without ever sharing the harsh reality behind it.

By Nicole Dominique3 min read
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In October 2022, a senior U.S. investigator said that it was very easy to find child abuse content that came from OnlyFans. This, unfortunately, comes as no surprise to those who have been looking into the dark side of the platform.

Avery Center, a sex trafficking research and survivor services organization, released a large report that exposed the dark side of OnlyFans, the popular subscriber-based platform that enables content creators to sell pornographic material of themselves. According to the Avery Center, the Covid-19 pandemic "exacerbated vulnerabilities for marginalized populations" and individuals in the "commercial sex trade." These increased issues influenced many people to join sex work, an industry where trafficking and exploitation are rampant.

How OnlyFans Can Lead To Potentially Dangerous In-Person Meetings

11% of those who responded to the organization's survey claimed that they were aware of minors who owned an account on OnlyFans, and estimated that they personally knew a total of 35 minors who had their content sold on the platform. 6% of the survey takers admitted that their traffickers "helped them create and market their OnlyFans content." 

The case study found that OnlyFans proved to be a gateway for prostitution.

The case study found that OnlyFans proved to be a gateway for prostitution, and content creators confessed that the platform "facilitates buyers to find individuals” who would be willing to meet in person for sex. Even though OnlyFans is centered on virtual content, it created a “significant increase in supply of individuals selling sex in person,” with one respondent stating, “It [led] me to start in-person work. I realized I was already doing online [sex work], and I know I could make more doing in person.”

How Sex Traffickers Use OnlyFans

53% of the respondents believed that OnlyFans did not do enough screening during their registration process, and nearly one-third said it was evident when a sex trafficker is managing and exploiting a victim's account on the platform. 

30% of the content creators also claimed that they "received private messages from suspected traffickers" who would offer to "manage their accounts for a portion" or all of their "proceeds." Some of these sex sellers added they were "messaged between three and 18 times." Unfortunately, the platform does not have a way for users to report suspicious persons or suspected traffickers who approach them on the app.

The study also conducted a sample of 97 public Instagram accounts of digital sex workers, which were analyzed for any indication of "third-party traffickers." According to the study, 64% of these accounts with OnlyFans links in their profile were categorized as "unknown," while 36% of them were labeled as "likely third-party controlled." This further proves that Instagram also does not have a vetting process to identify victims who are being exploited.

How OnlyFans Can Affect Your Mental Health

OnlyFans reportedly affected the well-being of many of the content creators on the platform. "The mental pressure of having buyers, traffickers, and OnlyFans all demanding more from content creators has, not surprisingly, been a detriment to many creators' wellbeing," the study writes. "Thirty-four percent of the respondents said they had experienced negative physical or mental health outcomes as a direct result of content creation on OnlyFans."

34% of respondents experienced negative physical or mental health as a direct result of content creation on OnlyFans.

It continues, "The negative effects creators experienced included anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, fear, and shame." Some of the sellers were fearful of being "exposed in their personal life," and are terrified of losing their child, employment, and housing from trying to "financially survive." 

The Disempowering Truth about OnlyFans

Even though there have been some successful OnlyFans models, they're but a select few. What’s worse is the number of young women and children who are influenced by them. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said that one mother claimed that explicit images of her 10-year-old daughter were uploaded to OnlyFans. "Children are not only consuming content on OnlyFans, but also are able to produce content," said Hannah Ruschen, NSPCC's Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer.

So what did OnlyFans have to say about all of this? Amrapali Gan, the platform’s CEO, apparently thinks they’re the “safest” media platform. "We actively work with law enforcement. If anyone makes the mistake thinking they can upload illegal content, we will report them," she says. "We're truly the safest and most inclusive social media platform."

Closing Thoughts

Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok often push large accounts, many of them being OnlyFans models. Some of them like to flaunt their money or bank account, not realizing that they're persuading young, impressionable women to do the same. Sex work is not always empowering – it's often the opposite. It can be dangerous and damaging to one's psyche, and it's time we encourage girls to find better ways to make money.

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