The ban of explicit content by content-sharing website, OnlyFans, has been met with mixed reactions from users.
Early this week, the platform announced that it would ban sexually explicit content, a move that has left its 120 million monthly users and two million content creators in limbo.
American rapper Tyga has deleted his account, despite being one of the website’s most popular creators.
The 'hookah' rapper, in an interview with Forbes said the move is in solidarity with sex-workers who rely on the platform for their income, and are now left out in the cold following the ban.
OnlyFans crept into our internet homepages as the coronavirus pandemic persisted through 2019 and 2020.
As social schedules were interrupted and in-person connectivity was replaced with social media and video-call technology, the website grew fast - and big.
The London-based content subscription service was launched in 2016, and has since gained popularity as a platform where ordinary civilians and celebrities alike share clips and photos for their target audiences and fans at a subscription fee.
So popular has the platform become, that singer Beyoncé mentioned it in Megan Thee Stallion’s 'Savage' remix.
But it doesn’t have the best reputation. The site has been linked to posts that are more on the risqué side, with content creators baring it all, posing nude and shooting racy skits.
The website has been described by CNN as “synonymous with pornography” and is known for its scandalous content.
However, it's sometimes outrageous content has been embraced by some of the who is who in the entertainment scene. Tyga is not the only star who saw the lucrative power in OnlyFans content.
RnB sensation Chris Brown, super producer DJ Khaled and rapper Cardi B are some of the big names that joined the platform - and for good reason. They are making big bucks. Locally, socialites like Vera Sidika, Huddah Monroe, and Shakila 'Shakilla' Amin jumped onto the bandwagon.
In an Instagram story in 2020, Sidika revealed that she would be opening her own OnlyFans account, defending her decision as one that was meant to fulfill her desire to make a lot of money and become rich.
“Who doesn’t love money, because I do so damn much. What is crazy is the rich ones (are) always getting richer because they are always hungry and never stop. Even if I get one billion today I will still want two, then three then four. By the way, subscribe to my OnlyFans; Queenveebosset. It’s never enough,” Sidika wrote.
She added that she would be sharing exclusive twerk videos on her page, which charges Sh3,000 a monthly subscription fees monthly.
“I joined only fans. They say it’s a porn site. But I want to use it for my real fans. Somewhere we talk. Connect like real-life friends. Ask me anything, business ideas. Unlocks the thirst on how to win life apart from my nudes …” Huddah Monroe said, insisting that her page would bring her closer to her fans, not promote nudity.
Meanwhile, Shakilla bragged about making over Sh200,000 in one night and over Sh700,000 on the platform over the course of one month.
American actress Bella Thorne made history in August 2021 when she earned $1 million (more than Sh109 million) just 24 hours after she started an OnlyFans account.
Even with the involvement of notable names in music, television, and social media, the website has not been able to shake off its reputation; pornographic material is aired on the site, making it difficult to separate entirely from a typical porn site.
“The company has been praised for giving sex workers a safer place to do their jobs. But sex work still has a stigma. The company handled more than $2 billion in sales last year and is on pace to generate more than double that this year. It keeps 20 per cent of that figure,” Bloomberg reports.
The report adds that OnlyFans has been under pressure to change its policies by banking partners and payment providers, and is attempting to balance supporting its users and raising money from outside investors.
As Tyga withdraws from the platform, he says his next move is to establish his own competing website, meant to give OnlyFans a run for its money.
“The rapper’s subscription-based content service, called “myystar,” will allow sexually explicit videos for sex workers and celebrities alike. Set to debut in October, myystar will take a 10 per cent cut from creators’ earnings—half of OnlyFans’ cut,” reads a piece on Tyga’s interview with Forbes.
“In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of our platform, and continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines,” OnlyFans said in its bombshell statement, noting that creators will still be allowed to post nude photos and videos- but under stipulated guidelines that the website would provide.
The new rule will take effect in October, and the platform has said through a statement that it will give the new guidelines at a later date.
Despite the safe haven a platform like OnlyFans has created for sex workers, local laws are strict about nudity and pornography.
Early this year consumption and trade in adult content was put on the spotlight by the Kenyan government, which is now seeking to criminalize publishing of adult content.
A bill sponsored by Garissa Town MP Aden Duale was proposed in 2020, and if passed would see offenders pay Sh20 million or face imprisonment not exceeding 25 years, or both.