Love Island star Megan Barton-Hanson has spoken out against OnlyFans’ decision to ban explicit content from its platform, asserting the shift in guidelines is unfairly targeting sex workers.

Last Thursday, the content subscription service announced it would “prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually-explicit conduct” starting October 1. The off-brand adjustment confused and infuriated creators and subscribers — and, quite frankly, anyone who’s watched the site’s recent rise in popularity. Founded in 2016, the service truly took off when Beyoncé sang about the site in a remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” last year, with OnlyFans reporting a 15 percent increase in traffic after and “about 200,000 new users every 24 hours and 7,000 to 8,000 new creators joining everyday” after its release. OnlyFans has since amassed 130 million total users, and over 2 million creators — many of whom create “sexually explicit” content. And now they’ve chosen to ban the very thing largely responsible for prompting, and sustaining, their business model.

Content creators and sex workers are understandably agitated by the hypocritical move, and Barton-Hanson, who uses OnlyFans, feels similarly.

“I am disappointed OnlyFans have decided to remove all sexually explicit videos,” the model and sex columnist told Vice. “It used to be a beacon of hope in my eyes and I thought that stigma around sex work would be diminished but now it feels like we are back at square one. Sex workers have always been treated unfairly and this is another example of that.”

As reported by Vice, Barton-Hanson makes “hundreds of thousands” of pounds from her OnlyFans, but is primarily concerned about the consequences this will have for the sex worker community.

“I am worried about those content creators who will be affected,” Barton-Hanson said. “It seems so unfair. OnlyFans has been a really safe way for people to sell their images and earn money from home. During the pandemic, this has been a lifeline for so many.”

Indeed, thousands of sex workers turned to OnlyFans amid the pandemic to safely continue their careers without interacting with clients in person. Now, they’re angry at the site for slighting the very demographic primarily responsible for the site’s rapid rise to prominence.

“It is a shame that the site, that previously championed allowing people to do what they want with their bodies, is now implementing a rule as a response to pressure from banking partners and payment providers,” Barton-Hanson told The Tab. “From my understanding, the rule is that sexually explicit videos are to be prohibited, but nude photos and videos are still allowed. This reinforces the toxic notion that sex work is something to be ashamed of.”

Barton-Hanson’s community has inspired her to stay on the site for the time being, though she’s considering creating her own app down the line.

“I will stay on OnlyFans for now, but the changes have really got me thinking I need to get on [social sharing platform] VuePay or start my own app that stands up for sex workers,” she told inews.  “I’ve got lots of subscribers who are actually female fans. They pay my subscription to be connected on a more personal level.

“I’m able to speak with my OnlyFans followers directly and I get asked for all sorts of advice, from coming out to relationship problems,” she continued. “There’s a real community on my page and I have always wanted to create a safe space for women and men alike where they can be themselves.

Fortunately, there are other sites that will continue to allow creators to host NSFW content, should OnlyFans users wish to relocate. Fansly, for example, is a good alternative, though it’s since crashed as creators have begun the process of switching platforms.

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