Founded in 2016, the London-based video and social platform OnlyFans has grown exponentially during the pandemic.
According to Forbes, “In the year through November 2020, OnlyFans posted revenues of $400 million, up 540% over the prior year, 80% of which came from American customers.” Additionally, the “number of creators nearly quintupled to 1.6 million,” and now includes celebrities like Cardi B, Bhad Bhabie, and Bella Thorne. The number of subscribers, called “fans,” increased more than 500% to 82 million. Profits grew from $6.6 million to $60 million.
As a result of OnlyFans’ growth, Forbes estimates that OnlyFans’ majority owner, Leonid Radvinsky, is now a billionaire, worth about $1.8 million. Radvinsky bought a $75 share in the company in October 2018 and is listed as one of the two sole directors of the company.
Not much is known about Radvinsky, but what's known isn’t flattering. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he ran a collection of at least 11 websites that “advertised access to ‘illegal’ and ‘hacked’ passwords to porn sites, including ones that were advertised as featuring underage performers.” These sites offered to connect users to things like more than 10,000 “illegal pre-teen passwords,” the “hottest underaged hardcore” containing 16-year-olds, the “best illegal teen passwords,” and “the hottest bestiality site on the web.”
Forbes asked the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to investigate the archived websites containing links for underage pornography. The IWF reported that “none linked to illegal material.”
In fact, Radvinsky’s sites seem to be nothing more than “lucrative affiliate referral sites.” The links typically sent the user to another site offering more links to porn. Radvinsky made money by charging his partner sites (the actual porn sites) a fee for every click. So while Radvinsky wasn’t directly involved in creating porn, he had no scruples in facilitating user access and exploiting the system for money.
Like Pornhub, OnlyFans lacks a system to verify the age of its content creators. Last month, the BBC reported on a 14-year-old girl who made an account on OnlyFans using her grandmother’s passport. A police officer said OnlyFans is “[N]ot doing enough to put in place the safeguards that prevent children exploiting the opportunity to generate money, but also for children to be exploited."