Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

The dark side of OnlyFans

Elizabeth Hope

You may be familiar with the platform OnlyFans and the typical content that it features. However, you are likely unaware of the dangers it surfaces and how similar platforms feed into a dark, well-concealed criminal act –– human trafficking. 

Human trafficking is defined as “a crime involving the exploitation of a person for labor, services, or commercial sex.” OnlyFans is a platform where individuals can publish exclusive content at a price. Creators can post photos, videos, audio, live streams and written content. The platform is best known for containing sexual content. Creators are free to post pornography for their subscribers; this is what OnlyFans is best known for. With the widespread consumption of pornography, the platform’s popularity comes as no surprise. 

Pornography is vastly popular among young Americans. 85% of men and 50% of women between the ages of 18 and 30 in the U.S. watch pornography at least once a month. Pornography is a $97 billion industry, and many creators benefit from these numbers, including sex workers and other online personalities. However, most people are unaware of the connection between pornography and human trafficking. Within the billions this industry makes worldwide, at least $3 billion comes from child pornography.

Since human trafficking and pornography are considered industries, they too have a supply-demand relationship. Viewers of pornography create the demand for sex trafficking, while sex trafficking produces the supply. Victims of sex trafficking are often coerced, groomed or abused into performing sexual acts. Traffickers will often prey on young, vulnerable individuals. These vulnerabilities include financial need, discrimination issues, substance abuse, unstable housing or immigration status. Once they are coerced or forced into sexual acts, pornography often plays some sort of role. 80% of sex work survivors report that their customers showed them pornography as an example of what sexual acts they wanted them to perform.

 Additionally, thousands of victims are being forced to make pornography. These victims are trapped in this cycle for various reasons, oftentimes mental, emotional or physical abuse. Abusers often threaten and shame victims, keep identification documents from them or physically harm them. 

On OnlyFans alone, it is easy to access child abuse content. A U.S. senior investigator was reported to have found 10 child abuse images in one hour on various platforms, all originating from OnlyFans. Most of the children in these photos were around 12 years old, with the youngest child being around five. 

Additionally, in a report made by the Avery Center, 6% of OnlyFans survey respondents admitted to their traffickers helping them create and market their OnlyFans content. 53% of the surveyed also believe that OnlyFans does not do “enough screening of content creators and subscribers during the site registration process,” while 28% said it was “very obvious when a trafficker was managing a victim’s account on OnlyFans.” 

Although it may be easier to tell when someone is being managed on an OnlyFans account, oftentimes it is not as obvious on other platforms. It is crucial to be aware of how online platforms can contribute to the problem of human trafficking, and it is especially important to take responsibility for the role society plays. 

It is impossible to identify what is consensual behind the scenes and what happens once the cameras are off. Before subscribing to platforms like these or carelessly watching any kind of pornography, take into account what might be happening on the other side. It is best to stray from platforms like these, as they are feeding into a dark industry that takes place behind closed doors.

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About the Contributors
Luna Infante
Luna Infante, Assistant Opinion Editor
Luna (she/her) is a second-year student at UTSA, majoring in communications. Luna enjoys journalistic and creative writing. With communications, she plans on pursuing a career in journalism, hoping to one day be the editor-in-chief of a magazine. She has been with The Paisano since Fall 2022. Apart from writing, Luna’s interests include dancing, being around people, and hanging out with her cat, Arlo.
Elizabeth Hope
Elizabeth Hope, Staff Writer
Elizabeth Hope (she/her) is a senior and a communication major at UTSA. She is originally from Montana and moved to Austin when she was 11. In 2022 she earned her associates degree in journalism from Austin Community College. After graduation she hopes to pursue a career in journalism or policy and advocacy for environmental issues. Outside of work and school she enjoys playing piano, reading and making jewelry.

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