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OnlyFans’ porn ban sounds even dumber than Tumblr’s

It's an affront to sex workers who helped popularize the platform

OnlyFans’ porn ban sounds even dumber than Tumblr’s
Napier Lopez
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Napier Lopez

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Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in his free time. Follow him on Twitter.

As with Tumblr, I’ve never really used OnlyFans. But you don’t have to be on the platforms to recognize the obvious: in both cases, banning porn is a dumb idea.

OnlyFans today announced (via Bloomberg) that it will bar creators from posting sexually explicit content starting in October. While some nude photos and videos will still be allowed, the move comes off as misguided at best and an affront to the sex workers who were crucial to building the platform at worst.

Whether or not you use the app, OnlyFans is synonymous with porn. Even if we know there are other types of content on the app, OnlyFans has thrived on being a relatively welcoming platform for people who post sexually explicit content. It’s sex workers who are primarily responsible for the brand recognition and user influx that allowed it to build up a reported valuation of over $1 billion.

For its part, OnlyFans said, “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.”  According to Bloomberg, the company will provide further guidance on the policy at a later date.

The company also acknowledges the move comes in the wake of pressure from banking and payment providers. Obviously, OnlyFans thinks it can survive without the porn, or it wouldn’t have bowed to pressure. But one need only look at the example of Tumblr again to see how history could repeat itself.

According to Statista, Tumblr had over 520 million monthly visitors prior to its 2018 porn ban. In just a couple of months, that number dropped to 370 million.

Years later, the service has only continued to decline, hovering around 320 million users these days. Actual engagement is likely much lower, with Tumblr rarely entering the public conversation about social networks.

Speaking of billion-dollar valuations, that’s how much Yahoo paid for Tumblr back in 2013. In 2019 Tumblr was bought by WordPress parent Automattic for just $3 million dollars. That’s less than it’d cost you to buy a shoebox apartment in some NYC streets.

I don’t know if OnlyFans’ value will go down quite that much. The company’s business model (it takes a 20% cut of sales) allows for easier monetization than Tumblr, at least.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if it did follow in Tumblr’s decline either. It’s simple: the internet likes porn. Don’t give the internet porn and then take it away.

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