The COVID-19 lockdown pornography rush has helped the owners of OnlyFans to make some serious bank.
OnlyFans profited tens of millions of pounds from the lockdown-induced rush to use online pornography, and the Essex family who founded it have COVID to thank (and millions of horny people, too) for £1.7 billion (3,102066.50 AUD) in their pockets.
OnlyFans has been called the paywall of porn and online go-go dancing, changing the world of sex work forever, one post at a time.
The social media platform was founded by Timothy Stokely, 37, in 2016 but didn’t gain immense popularity until 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown, when the use of the online adult service surged.
Why? People were stuck at home.
What else is there to do but pay for 18+ content you can’t find on Instagram or TikTok – the two other popular platforms that surged during the lockdown.
The site allows individuals to produce videos and other content, which can only be viewed by paying a continual subscriber fee.
The platform has attempted to emphasise the presence of celebrities on its site, but its main business is selling adult material.
There is a lack of options for many adult performers to make a profit from their work, enabling Stokely and OnlyFans to swoop in and charge a 20 per cent cut for the use of their platform.
The platform said that active users increased by 69 million in 2020, mainly from the United States, with many joining after it was mentioned by celebrities such as Beyoncé and Cardi B.
During the pandemic, sex workers had few options to earn an income, so OnlyFans became highly lucrative. However, drama arose when celebrities started joining the platforms, and sex workers blamed them for harming their income.
For example, when Bella Thorne joined, OnlyFans altered its terms and conditions to include caps and holds on payments after customers demanded refunds when Thorne allegedly charged $200 for a nude photo… but didn’t appear naked.
OnlyFans creator Erika Heidewald took to Twitter to explain the changes meant for creators on the platform.
“The funds you made on OnlyFans were only pending for a week, so most creators got paid at least once a week. Imagine going suddenly from a weekly paycheck to a monthly paycheck,” she said.
I am sex worker and I make money on OF. You made my job is more difficult because now I have to wait 30 days for my money, OF reduced the amount of tip there and people don’t want to believe to closed pictures anymore. You have to use your brain before LIE people and destroy biz!
— Eva Berger (@nad8348) September 1, 2020
Heidewald hopes that celebrities joining doesn’t push sex workers off the platform, especially when they have fewer sources of income.