OnlyFans has a new CEO. After nearly two and a half years in the position, Ami Gan announced on Tuesday morning that she is stepping down. In the same thread, she announced her successor as chief strategy and operations officer Keily Blair.
I’d love to tout how passing the leadership baton to another woman is “feminist,” but I have my hesitations.
In theory, OnlyFans is great: creators can personalize and monetize their content as they see fit and engage with their fans in a 1:1 setting that traditional studio pornography never fostered. Fans can seek out exclusive content from both porn stars and amateur creators, hyper-specific fetish content, financial dominatrixes and femdommes, and queer creators. The people you wouldn’t commonly see on the front page of your favorite tube site can end up in the top 10%, and that’s a wonderful thing.
So what’s the problem?
In 2021, the company issued a ban on “sexual content.” The company intended to pivot toward the influencer and celebrity market, and in so doing alienated its creator and user base. After six days of mass outrage, the ban was suspended.
CEO and founder Tim Stokely stepped down soon after and was replaced by Ami Gan, the company’s then-chief marketing and communications officer a few months later. But the issues didn’t end when Gan stepped in, so can we expect Blair to be any better? Under Gan, issues arguably increased: chargebacks, changing terms of service, and outright bans. Sex workers hoped having a woman at the helm would bring change to the platform: it didn’t. But at least she presided over the launch of OFTV…which excluded sex workers as a solely safe-for-work venture!
OnlyFucking creators over
Creators have had longstanding issues with chargebacks—a subscriber paying for content and then disputing the charge—leaving us with nothing but a feeling of violation due to the company’s lax chargeback policy. But things have gotten worse: In recent months, creators have reported their accounts being shut down with no notice, payout, or recourse, despite having thousands of dollars in their balance.
A complete removal of an OnlyFans page means all content, conversation, and access to the audiences a creator worked tirelessly to build have suddenly vanished. A creator’s income source disappears overnight, and they have no idea why.
Missing money? You’re not the only one
Lydia Black, a porn star and fetish creator on OnlyFans for 5 years, experienced this firsthand. She claims the company deleted her original account, where she was in the top .3% of creators. The company then banned her from making a new page and refused to pay out the $2,000 in earnings sitting in her balance. “[OnlyFans] told me they returned the money to my fans, but my fans say they never got anything back,” she told Cashmere.
“I reached out to the company via email every day for 3 months. I was ignored. My lawyer also emailed them…they ignored him as well.”
“OnlyFans was my main source of income. I had to figure out how to replace thousands of dollars a month that paid for my medical bills and my rent. I was severely depressed for months.”
Lydia isn’t the only one. Kitty Girl, a financial dominatrix that makes female domination and foot fetish content, was banned from the platform two months ago. At the point of her ban, she was in the top 2% of creators and had nearly $3,000 waiting to be paid out. She claims she contacted them repeatedly, on Twitter and via email, and was only met with automated responses.
OnlyFans was Kitty Girl’s only income source at the time. “My pending balance was around $3,000. I [could] make [that] in a week. I could earn the same amount in a month and a half because my subscribers didn’t want to subscribe to me on Loyalfans or Fansly,” she said.
Black experienced a similar reaction: “People told me it was just a social media page and that I could make a Fansly or a Loyalfans. Of course, I did, but I lost the connection to thousands of fans. Maybe 2% of them followed me to my new sites.”
“Even with all my income combined from all the other fan sites I now have to use, it barely covers half of what I make on OnlyFans.”
Kitty Girl added, “I cried for a week because I had [my OnlyFans] for two years. I put a lot of work into this and did not understand why I was blocked. A lot of my subscribers were angry with me.”
Cashmere contacted OnlyFans regarding these allegations and was met with this reply from Emma, the Communications and Projects Manager.
“Our policies are clearly set out in our Acceptable Use Policy and Terms of Service. Our Appeals Process is also available to any creator who wishes to challenge content or account deactivation.” Alongside this message, Emma included links to both policies, but said nothing more.
Terms of (dis)service
Vickie Jay, a cam performer and creator, was also banned from OnlyFans. The difference in her story? Her account was reinstated.
“My account was terminated with no warning,” she told Cashmere. I received a very vague email that said, “After a review of your account, please note that your account will be terminated due to a violation of our terms and services.” My account was disabled immediately. I was unable to log in to even inquire about it.”
She continued, “I took to old support tickets that I had opened prior to the termination and started to demand an explanation. I wasn’t originally given a reason for the termination. When I finally received a response, all they said was I violated the terms of service.”
“I continued to email with the support team asking for more information on what I violated in the TOS. I then received a separate email unattached to the support ticket, asking to verify my account. My account then became magically reinstated after being told it was an irreversible termination.”
But it’s not exactly a happy ending for Vickie. “After re-verifying my account, I lost close to 100 subscribers. OnlyFans refunded all of my pending balance back to fans… leaving me owing $300.”
On top of losing her earnings, she said OnlyFans restricted her account for a month after the reinstatement; fans were only able to tip $5 in 24 hours and her maximum pay-to-view price was $10. After a month, she was able to get out of the red, but claims the company held her payouts for two weeks.
So why do creators stay on OnlyFans?
OnlyFans may lack in features compared to competitor platforms, but it has one thing they do not: brand recognition. Subscribers feel more comfortable adding their credit card information to OnlyFans, likely because it is now a household name.
With this cultural recognition comes normalization and trust. For creators, that means it’s easier to build an audience on the platform. For creators that get banned, that means a notable drop in income even if they start a new fansite.
Vickie Jay elected to keep her account after she was banned and unbanned. “Unfortunately, I feel forced to use it,” she explained. “Even without self-promoting my OnlyFans, I still get new subscribers every time I live stream.”
“Fans seek out my OnlyFans because it’s well-known outside of the [adult] industry. Onboarding fans to new platforms is so hard. No one is interested in leaving OnlyFans as a consumer, which is crazy to me.”
Ban, baby, ban
The concern about being banned from OnlyFans is growing in the adult creator community. Creators have had years-old content removed from the platform for retroactive terms of service violations, which they worry will lead to bans in the future. A recent update bans content that “causes or is calculated to cause inconvenience or anxiety to anyone else or which is likely to upset, embarrass, or cause serious offence.”
What does this mean for fetish creators that engage in consensual humiliation? Are dominatrixes going to be banned for hurting a submissive’s feelings? Is adult content going to be sanitized until only the most vanilla remains?
This all ties back to the banks. A 2021 Vice article laid out to the public what sex workers already knew well: financial services like banks and payment processors can control what you sell and buy. Isn’t consent supposed to be between individuals, not the individuals and their bank?
Sex workers are left to face the fallout of tightened restrictions from the payment processors of companies like OnlyFans. At best, content is removed, and at worst, entire accounts and sources of income are lost.
Can OnlyFans do better?
With Keily Blair taking over as CEO, sex workers are wondering if they can expect changes—but aren’t holding out hope.
“Just two years ago, shortly after my account was deleted, OnlyFans announced they’d be getting rid of all adult content on their site,” said Lydia Black. They went back on that decision, but have been slowly working towards that goal since. Each month, adding new things you’re not allowed to do on their platform, and one day it will come down to you being able to post virtually [nothing.]”
“With the new CEO, I do not expect any good changes. It doesn’t matter who the CEO is: the villain here is the credit card companies and the payment processors.”
Vickie Jay feels similarly. “I assume there will be a sex work purge. OnlyFans used the adult industry to build their platform. The mainstream media attention it has received has brought so much unwanted attention from banks, credit card processors, and overly religious political groups that want to abolish the industry.”
If OnlyFans and Keily Blair want to do better than their predecessors, they only have to do one thing: listen to the sex workers that make up their primary creator base instead of kicking us off. But being that Blair was at the company while these failures were made, can we really expect anything better?