Wondering what is OnlyFans? Is there an age limit or age restriction to the service? And why is it suddenly becoming so popular among users of all ages?
OnlyFans is an online content sharing platform. Creators can post anything on there — from photography and recipes, to exercise tips and explicit videos or photos. Anyone can use the site, but for a long time it was primarily known as being a way for adult creators (sex workers, models, and performers) to charge users to view their exclusive adult content. It also offered a pay-to-play option for these creators to interact with their fans via direct messaging.
The service has been around since 2016, and it is strictly an 18-and-over platform. However, that doesn’t stop kids from trying to get on the site to look around. How do minors know about it?
OnlyFans became more well known in recent months as more mainstream personalities — chefs, personal trainers, gamers, musicians, performers — started using the service to charge for their work. They post limited content on mainstream social feeds like Instagram and TikTok, and in their bio or post description they offer fans exclusive material on OnlyFans.
That’s increased attention has only grown during the pandemic.
“From March 2020 to now, the total number of users on the platform has increased from 26 million to over 65 million, and the total number of creators on the platform has increased from 350,000 to over 900,000,” an OnlyFans representative tells Parentology. “In the months of March and April, the platform experienced a 75% increase in new users and creators.”
How OnlyFans Works
Creators upload their videos and their fans pay to see them or their work as part of a monthly subscription service. They can also pay the creator in tips.
While it’s free to open an OnlyFans account, creators make money by setting a fee for their videos and content. They keep 80% of their earnings, while OnlyFans takes the other 20%. Fans are required to use a credit card to make transactions on the platform. So, minors shouldn’t be able to access any inappropriate material unless they are stealing an adult’s credit card.
Should Parents be Concerned?
One of the big differences between OnlyFans and other content-sharing sites is that OnlyFans creators can share material that would otherwise get banned on sites like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. This includes nude photos and pornography.
A minor can lie about their age and create a profile. This will let you view public profiles, but that’s as far as it goes, and there’s nothing a public profile that can’t also be seen on any other social media app. To view or share any subscription content on the site, you must be 18.
“OnlyFans has a strict KYC [Know Your Customer] onboarding process for all users and content creators on the platform,” the OnlyFans spokesperson says. That means all new users have to provide:
- Full name
- Address (verified by a third-party API)
- Date of birth
- Government-issued photo ID
- Selfie photo holding the above ID
OnlyFans tells Parentology that the ID and the selfie photo of the person holding the ID are sent to two third-party age verification providers via API call. They are reviewed and a verification, denial, or request for more information is returned.
“Our onboarding team reviews the results of this along with examining the applicant’s provided ID, a selfie with ID photo, linked social media accounts, linked email addresses, GeoIP locations, and other provided information to discover possible inconsistencies,” they explain.
If all of the information passes the multi-point system, then the person is accepted. Once they are accepted, OnlyFans continues to monitor accounts. If any accounts are flagged for inconsistencies, they will get reviewed again.
OnlyFans tells Parentology that if kids try to Photoshop an ID, it will get flagged through the onboarding process and prevent them from getting on to the site. The site contends that its rigorous KYC account onboarding process prevents minors from accessing the platform.
While OnlyFans takes precautions to prevent minors from accessing the site, it’s always important to know what your kids are doing online. Look at their computer and phone browser history, talk with your kids about what you think is appropriate for someone their age, and let them know about the potential dangers that lurk online so they can protect themselves.