Last week (October 1, 2021) - the popular content creators monetization platform OnlyFans announced that they would be restricting adult content on their platform - due to banking support issues.
This is an ongoing challenge in the adult industry - (similar to the challenges in banking and federal vs state regulation in cannabis). Many banks/payment services do not support sex work or adult content - pulling their FDIC insurance, and other guarantees businesses outside the adult industry are granted and guaranteed.
Do you guys remember the scene in Boogie Nights where Buck (pornographic actor), sat in front of a loan officer with his pregnant wife - and wanted to get a business loan to start his own audio retail shop, but was denied because his only form of employment was acting in adult films? This is an actual struggle that entertainers and businesses in the adult industry have to face regularly.
Acts like SESTA-FOSTA and federal regulation on sex work, etc. are an ongoing challenge for adult and sexually expressed sites/apps/businesses. It is important to diversify your portfolio, platforms and banking - and to pay attention to what is going on in our state and federal legislation, how these bills are written - and advocate for freedom of speech and adult industry rights, freedom of speech/expression, banking - etc.
What is SESTA - FOSTA - and why does it matter to adult content creators?
SESTA = Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act FOSTA= Allow States and Victims Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act
These bills were passed through the US Senate and house on April 11, 2019 to prohibit sex trafficking. However- the way the SESTA-FOSTA act is written - and the way sex trafficking is defined - it criminalizes online sex workers and publishers and limits their abilities to create, monetize and advertise their businesses online.
When the SESTA-FOSTA act was passed in 2019 - Craigslist pulled it’s personals section stating ""Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services.” - Backpage also followed by removing their Personals section - and social networks like Facebook and Tumblr changed their content policies to restrict the posting of their definition of “sexual content”. This largely targeted LGBTQ communities - as well as other sexually expressive (non-monogamous, kinky, fetish, etc.) communities. This was one of the first ways SESTA-FOSTA restricted sex work and sexual expression on the internet. It took away the platforms sex workers and sexually expressed persons were able to connect and communicate with each other.
Let’s take it back a little further, to 1996 - The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was the first attempt by United State Congress to regulate pornographic material on the Internet. The FCC already regulated adult content on television - restricting the hours and type of content that could be broadcasted on television. But with commercial use of the internet gaining popularity around 1992 - legislators worked to restrict and define “obscene content” published on the internet. This is a decade of legislation, that has aided in the instability of online sex work and freedom of speech and sexual expression.
OnlyFans was not the first company to face these challenges, and won’t be the last. OnlyFans released a statement this week stating “The proposed Oct. 1, 2021 changes are no longer required due to banking partners’ assurances that OnlyFans can support all genres of creators.” - this is a step in the right direction for creators to fully express themselves and generate income through their art.