GOP Congresswoman Going After OnlyFans Doesn’t Have a Clue

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Back in 2017, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) orchestrated the passage of a pair of laws, known as FOSTA/SESTA, targeting sex workers. Now, she’s launching a new war on OnlyFans.

According to XBiz’s Gustavo Turner, Wagner recently accused the subscription-based platform of pushing illegal child porn videos and facilitating sex trafficking. “It is absolutely unconscionable,” she told Reuters in March. “These findings confirm what my office has known for years: Americans are being sexually exploited on OnlyFans. Congress and federal law enforcement must do more.”

I take it Wagner doesn’t subscribe or post on OnlyFans, but I do. And as one of the top earners on the platform, I know her accusations aren’t just far-fetched—they contradict the very nature of the website.

Anyone who has ever modeled on OnlyFans or purchased content from it knows the site’s strict age regulations. When you register as a model, you must upload your ID to prove you’re at least 18 years old and provide facial recognition, just like you would on an iPhone. If you then post a collaborative video, you must also submit identification and paperwork for your scene partner or tag them by their verified OnlyFans account. The site makes it difficult—if not impossible—to post the kind of vile, illegal child sexual material that Wagner claims OnlyFans supports.

OnlyFans is so careful, in fact, that it restricts age-play videos between two legal consenting adults. Let’s say I’m filming a MILF scene (I am America’s top MILF, after all). Imagine I call my scene partner a “young man” and say, “Wow, you’re so sexy for a boy that just turned 18”—OnlyFans would remove that video. The company takes the issue so seriously, you can’t even hint about someone turning 18.

Take the other accusation that OnlyFans solicits sexual activities. In a 2021 letter to the Justice Department, Wagner alleged that OnlyFans operated as “a major marketplace for buying and selling Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in the United States, as well as soliciting sexual activity with minors.” This statement contradicts the basic facts about OnlyFans. First of all, the site asks for the identification of models. Furthermore, it bans prostitution between adults, let alone children.

Here’s how it works: Say I am communicating with a fan on the site. They try to type “meet up,” but OnlyFans won’t even let them send the message; it blocks them. In another scenario, I could say in a video, “Hey, do you guys want to meet up?” OnlyFans would immediately remove that content and likely kick me off the platform. It’s impossible to facilitate prostitution between adults on OnlyFans, let alone child prostitution.

“I struggle to imagine a non-consensual porn epidemic on OnlyFans when it’s this strict about identifying individual vulvas.”

Wagner goes on to allege that non-consensual material appears on OnlyFans. The Reuters article notes 128 reports of non-consensual videos. “[Most] were lodged by women against men who were former sex partners,” Reuters found. “They often said the content was produced consensually but was posted without their permission—or even their knowledge. In about 40% of the complaints, the videos also appeared on other popular social media sites, usually as snippets to promote lengthier and more explicit material for sale on OnlyFans.”

Anti-porn zealots act as if OnlyFans tries to post non-consensual sexual content. But sex workers’ experiences tell a different story. One of my friends had surgery on her labia, and when she returned from the doctor and resumed posting, OnlyFans flagged her content. OnlyFans uses AI to monitor people, and its AI identified her labia as a different woman’s vulva. The site prevented her from airing the content without uploading an ID for this supposed new individual. I struggle to imagine a non-consensual porn epidemic on OnlyFans when it’s this strict about identifying individual vulvas.

Wagner, though, insists we need Congress and federal law enforcement to intervene. She insists she’s worried about victims, but if that was true, she would target the Silicon Valley juggernauts, like Meta, which the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates had 20 million cases of “incidents of offenders sharing these unimaginable images via Facebook and Messenger” in “2022 alone.”

If OnlyFans were guilty of a similar violation, we’d never hear the end of it. But she’s not speaking to Reuters about Meta. As much as Wagner screams about sex trafficking, she focuses on the porn industry instead of social media companies. Why? Because she’s obsessed with fear-mongering about sex work.

Wagner occasionally says the quiet part out loud—just look at her writing about sex work. The Missouri Republican once wrote, “With the exception of seven counties in Nevada, prostitution is strictly prohibited throughout the United States. Even within those seven counties, prostitution is highly regulated by the state government. Across the nation, states—both red and blue—have banned the sex trade because it is known to be abusive and exploitative, and harms the most vulnerable in our society.” She rages against even about legal sex work because her problem is, in fact, with the consenting, professional adult industry.

Wagner fails to see that it’s her rhetoric and laws that really endanger sex workers. Yes, many sex workers are vulnerable, but that’s because of restrictive laws that push girls out on the street—laws that Wagner advocated for, such as FOSTA/SESTA.Since that bill was enacted, the Berkley Journal of Criminal Law found that the “dismantling of an online-based sex work environment has led to an increase in economic instability for 72.45% of the online participants… with 33.8% reporting an increase of violence from clients.”

We sex workers are not all poor, lost, drug-addled souls. Yes, some of us are troubled, but many office secretaries are troubled too, and many professional sex workers are strong, independent women who run thriving businesses. And we’re certainly not in need of anybody’s help—unless that’s to beg lawmakers to stop legislating us out of existence just because you have a problem with us.

This post was originally published on Daily Beast

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