OnlyFans

OnlyFans is a subscription-based website service designed to help creators monetize their content. As most of the material posted is highly sexual, here’s what parents need to know:

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Written by Cyber Expert:

Teodora Pavkovic

Psychologist

OnlyFans was created by British businessman Timothy Stokely and launched in 2016. Since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the site's popularity has exploded. Current statistics indicate there are 50 million registered users and over 1 million creators on OnlyFans, with between seven and eight thousand new creators joining the platform every day.

Its premise is to provide a platform for content 'creators' to monetize their content by posting exclusive videos to their accounts their 'fans' can watch for a fee. Technically, the site is open to any online content creator with members as diverse as chefs, personal trainers, crafters, music artists, dancers, and fashion or food vloggers. However, despite this, OnlyFans is most widely used by creators in the adult entertainment industry, and as such, the vast majority of content is pornographic or highly sexualized in nature.


How is OnlyFans accessed and used?

Account setup

Users can set up an OnlyFans account through Twitter or Google, or alternatively, create an account using a verified email address, name, and password. Before new account members can access the site, they must first be authorized by uploading a selfie holding their photo ID. Valid credit card details also need to be provided, regardless of whether the member plans to purchase anything on the site.

How creators use OnlyFans to monetize their content

A creator's content is usually in the form of images or videos that they can monetize in several ways; however, the most popular is through subscription. Fans pay a monthly fee set by the creator for access to their exclusive account content. They can also earn money through the pay-per-view option, charging an extra fee for private one-to-one messaging, or asking fans for tips. Some creators set up a 'free' account where their fans can access a portion of their content at no cost but are charged a premium to view special locked posts. The content is delivered either by uploading photos and pre-recorded videos or via live stream to their fans. Content creators keep 80 percent of their account earnings.

Creators can also earn money through the site’s referral program. They are entitled to receive five percent of the earnings (taken from the OnlyFans commission) of any creator they referred to the platform for the first year of their membership.


Underage use

OnlyFans is a site intended for adult use only, and as such, the minimum age for membership is 18+. The platform attempts to adhere to this guideline by requiring new members to submit a selfie holding their photo ID before their account is approved and will close any underage accounts reported. Unfortunately, the verification process is somewhat flawed. Underage users have been found to have successfully bypassed the age authentication regulations by creating accounts using fake IDs or photoshopping their own image onto a friend's ID. When setting up their account, potential members must provide their credit card details, inadvertently creating an additional barrier; however, as the platform also accepts pre-paid VISA cards (which are almost as simple to obtain as a gift card), this is an easy obstacle for underage users to dodge.


What are the monetary costs involved?

Content creation can have a significant monetary cost for the creator. Not only is there a potentially large outlay for high-quality recording equipment and other capital expenses, but it is essential for a creator to maintain a high level of grooming and to keep up the illusion of status to be successful, all of which incur a fee. Many OnlyFans creators report little return on balance after the investment required to make their content.

In terms of site costs, an OnlyFans membership is free to set up. Fans with account subscriptions pay between USD4.99 and USD49.99 per month per account, and for any additional charges, including content pay per view, locked folders, one-to-one messaging, or tips as set by the creator. Creators pay 20 percent of their earnings as commission to OnlyFans.


What are the risks of using OnlyFans?

Despite being promoted as a platform for all content creators, OnlyFans is better known as a site for pornography and nudes. Most of the popular, high-earning accounts contain content that is highly sexualized and certainly not appropriate for underage users. Additionally, many young students who turn to OnlyFans to help make ends meet while they are still at school soon find that their more 'modest' content doesn't cut it on a platform where the vast majority of member accounts contain x-rated material, and so are forced to make their own content more and more sexually explicit to compete for Fans. The live streaming and one-to-one chat function also place underage users at high risk of easy interaction with predators.

Many well-known celebrities and influencers have incredibly lucrative OnlyFans accounts, and underage teens are drawn to the site with aspirations of living a celebrity lifestyle and earning fast, easy money. It's no wonder when the site's top earner, model, and entrepreneur, Blac Chyna, currently grosses over USD21 million per month. The reality is it's only the top one percent of users making 33 percent of the money. Monthly earnings for most OnlyFans members are unstable and unpredictable, and the average member earns (at the time of writing) an underwhelming USD180 per month.

OnlyFans promotes itself as a secure site; however, images and videos are frequently stolen and used elsewhere. Many members have found themselves the victim of doxxing, where their personal information, including their contact details and where they live, is publically leaked online, putting them at risk of being stalked and endangering their physical safety.

Creators should also be aware that posting content to OnlyFans may jeopardize their long term online reputation and digital footprint in the future. It could come up in a background check done by a potential boss, disqualify them from certain things like a Working with Children card, threaten their future ambitions, or subject them to extreme humiliation should their content be discovered by friends, family members or professional organizations.


What should parents do?

If a child has an OnlyFans account, it is unlikely they will want their parents finding out about it, so they may be more careful about covering their tracks. Parents should talk to their children about the risks and dangers of sharing explicit images online. If they discover their child has set up an OnlyFans membership, they should ensure it is shut down as soon as possible and that any subscriptions are canceled. Parents should also make sure their child has not shared any content on other platforms such as YouTube or TikTok to advertise their account to other users to encourage them to subscribe. Parents might consider conducting a Google reverse image search for any images uploaded by their child on their account to check if they have been shared or posted elsewhere.

It is essential for parents to pay attention to the influencers and celebrities their child follows and, particularly the type of content they post, being aware that many influencers represent themselves differently on different platforms. They should also monitor credit card charges for any unusual activity and note if their child seems to have extra money that they can't explain.

Keeping communication lines open and setting up a family digital agreement regarding online spending and use can help parents keep their children safe. It is strongly recommended that parents set up parental controls to filter adult content.

Further reading

Dealing with pornography

Getting help with pornography issues.

A Parents' Guide to Pornography

Our experts' guide to safeguarding kids against the dangers of pornography.

How to set up a cyber safe home

Our simple ABC model is a practical and effective way to create a safe online environment for your family.

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