The UK communications regulator, Ofcom, is looking into potential safeguarding violations by the video-sharing platform OnlyFans.

Ofcom announced on Wednesday that it is opening an investigation into whether OnlyFans is doing enough to prevent children accessing pornography on its site.

The OnlyFans content subscription service was founded in 2016 and is headquartered near Covent Garden in London. The OnlyFans service essentially allows sex workers or other content creators to charge their fans a fee to view their material.

Age verification

Besides porn, there are other types of content creators on the platform including musicians such as Cardi B, sports players, photographers, and cooks, but the majority of the content is said to be home made porn related.

Ofcom said that under existing regulations that pre-date the UK’s new Online Safety Act, video-sharing platforms (VSPs) established in the UK are required to take appropriate measures to prevent under-18s from accessing pornographic material.

In response to this VSP regulation, a number of UK-based sites that host adult content – including the largest, OnlyFans – have introduced age verification measures.

But according to Ofcom, after it reviewed submissions from OnlyFans in response to formal information requests, it said it has grounds to suspect the platform did not implement its age verification measures in such a way as to sufficiently protect under-18s from pornographic material.

Ofcom said it is also investigating whether OnlyFans failed to comply with its duties to provide complete and accurate information in response to these statutory requests.

OnlyFans response

OnlyFans told Reuters that it will co-operate with the regulator’s investigation.

“OnlyFans works closely with Ofcom to implement and develop best-practices on online safety, including the use of age-assurance technology,” an OnlyFans spokesperson was quoted by Reuters as saying.

She said the UK-based company uses age-assurance provider Yoti but a coding configuration issue led to a reporting error, which stated a threshold was set to 23 years-of-age, during a period of time when it had been set to 20.

“OnlyFans discovered the reporting error and proactively amended our report to Ofcom,” the spokesperson added.

Adult content

OnlyFans in 2021 went through a number of changes due its association with adult content.

In August 2021 the platform shocked the adult industry when it announced that from 1 October it would no longer allow “sexually explicit” content (although some nudity would be allowed).

The platform said the decision was taken to comply with requests from its banking and payment providers.

Days later the platform confirmed it was “suspending” its decision, after it “secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community.”

A few months later a female took over the running of the platform, after Amrapali Gan, who was its marketing head, was appointed to the CEO position.

She stepped down in the summer of 2023 and was replaced by another female, Keily Blair.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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