LONDON – OnlyFans said on Wednesday it had “suspended” plans to ban pornography, in a stunning turnaround that followed fierce reactions from users.
A spokesperson for the online subscription platform told CNBC that the proposed changes were no longer necessary “due to assurances from banking partners that OnlyFans can support all genres of creators.”
The London-based company last week announced plans to ban porn from October 1, amid pressure from its banking partners.
“Thank you to everyone for making your voice heard,” OnlyFans said in a tweet on Wednesday.
“We have been given the necessary assurances to support our diverse maker community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change.”
“OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators,” the company added. “An official announcement to the creators will be emailed shortly.”
OnlyFans’ decision to block sexually explicit posts was quickly condemned by sex workers, who were largely responsible for the platform’s success and rely on it as a source of income. The site allows adult performers to sell “not safe for work” content for a subscription fee.
Founded in 2016, OnlyFans has become a social media powerhouse thanks to its looser approach to overtly sexual material. With over 130 million users, 2 million content creators and a reported $150 million in free cash flow last year, OnlyFans has the kind of numbers many start-ups could only dream of.
OnlyFans has recently attempted to rebrand itself as a platform for creators of all kinds, claiming it is used by everyone from chefs to musicians. Celebrities like Cardi B and Bella Thorne have even joined as creators. Still, porn is by far the most popular category on the site.
OnlyFans founder and CEO Tim Stokely said in an interview with the Financial Times this week that the company was forced to ban such content after “unfair” treatment by banks.
Stokely cited JPMorgan, BNY Mellon and Britain’s Metro Bank as examples of lenders who have made the lives of OnlyFans and sex workers difficult. All three banks declined to comment when approached by CNBC.
There has been speculation that other factors were at play. For example, an Axios report last week noted that the company was struggling to find outside investments due to concerns over adult content hosting.
Stokely denied this was the case, saying OnlyFans “didn’t make this policy change to make it easier to find investors.”
The OnlyFans founder also brushed aside the suggestion that Mastercard may have been behind the ban. The payment network will introduce stricter rules for adult sellers from October 1, the same day OnlyFans would ban sexually explicit content.
Stokely said the company was already “fully compliant” with Mastercard’s new rules and that they had “no influence” on the policy change. A spokesperson for Mastercard told CNBC that the company has not contacted OnlyFans regarding its decision.
“They made this decision themselves,” the Mastercard spokesperson said.