OnlyFans shows that adult games could be next

And other stories from the world of adult gaming in Naughty List News #44

OnlyFans updated their content policies last week to no longer allow explicit adult content on their platform starting October 1st. After a severe online backlash, they have now suspended these changes. What I want to talk about today is how this can all come around to adult games just as easily.

I have spent a lot of time this week investigating the issues surrounding these policy changes, so please share this article with a friend if you found it useful!

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What’s going on?

It seems counter-intuitive to ban porn from a website that is well-known for adult content until you dig into it a bit deeper. All paid content on the Internet (including games) is under threat from some very powerful actors.

What has now been confirmed by the OnlyFans CEO is that the platform needed to make these changes because banks “cite reputational risk and refuse our business.” And the facts seem to corroborate that because one of these banks, the payment processor MasterCard, is indeed changing its rules for adult content.

Banking on porn

Let’s start with the facts. MasterCard is a payment processor for credit cards with a global market share of around 25.6%. On October 1st, 2021, they are changing their rules for adult content to be more stringent:

  • Documented age and identity verification for all people depicted and those uploading the content

  • Content review process prior to publication

  • Complaint resolution process that addresses illegal or non-consensual content within seven business days

  • Appeals process allowing for any person depicted to request their content be removed

Failure to comply with these rules can mean you’re not just banned from using MasterCard for processing payments, but according to one source, banned from ever opening a bank account again in the United States.

What I suspect happened at OnlyFans is that the executive team really did look at what it would mean to comply with these rules. While all of them seem fair, they’re actually a huge burden when you dig into the details.

For example, looking at point three: as a platform that hosts adult content, you must show MasterCard that you can address any complaints within seven business days. Failure to do so can result in expulsion from their services.

By comparison, when YouTube receives a notice to take down a video for failing to comply with the DMCA, the law requires that the notice is handled “expeditiously”, which has been interpreted to be within 72 hours. And a failure to handle take-down notices expeditiously does not result in an immediate penalty, it simply opens you up to being sued for copyright infringement.

Rat poop in your cornflakes

Verifying the identity and age of all people depicted in adult content is a monumental task. OnlyFans has a sizable user base already, who are uploading gigabytes of images and video every day. Yet according to the creators themselves, OnlyFans was already very thorough in its verification process:

The problem is that with these new rules, the punishment for making a mistake has been upped to what amounts to a financial death sentence. No amount of support staff can get you to 100% accuracy. It’s unreasonable to accept zero mistakes at scale, especially when we already accept that your average kitchen spices will contain a trace amount of mouse hair.

Failures in the process should be dealt with appropriately, but we have to accept a certain level of risk for every business. A zero-tolerance policy on misconduct does not make sex workers safer, nor does it stop exploitation.

So even though OnlyFans is hugely profitable and has already paid out over $3 billion to the content creators on its platform, my interpretation of the facts is that the decision-makers at the company decided that their relationship with MasterCard was more important than continuing to deal with sexually explicit content.

My final piece of evidence for this assertion is that OnlyFans just recently unveiled their OFTV app, which does not allow any nudity in the videos it shows.

Where did this come from?

The banking sector does not like adult content. Purely from a business perspective, the adult industry often operates in a legally gray area, and buyers (or their spouses) have a higher-than-average tendency to do charge-backs on purchases.

Simply put: if you’re a bank, porn is a liability for the bottom line.

So in swoops The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), a non-profit organization that says they have put a lot of thought into this thorny issue. Under the guise of protecting children against sexual exploitation, the organization lobbied MasterCard et al. aggressively to tighten their rules on adult content. This organization provided the payment processor a convenient cover for refusing to deal with adult content: it’s to protect the children, you see.

What you have to know about the NCOSE is that they’re not a neutral organization. They believe that pornography is a social ill and their end goal is to remove it from the Internet entirely. That’s not hyperbole, you can get that right from the About section on their website:

We are a nonprofit organization with a focus on […] the public health harms of pornography […] as well as the intersection of these issues with technology.

After the news dropped that OnlyFans would get rid of adult content, Laila Mickelwait, founder of the #TraffickingHub movement, made it clear that Twitter would be next:

From this statement, we can see a pattern emerging. First, they go after Instagram, then they hound PornHub, now OnlyFans, and perhaps Twitter next.

Sex workers also point out that the goals of organizations like the NCOSE don’t make a lot of sense if you apply them to a different context:

Bringing it back to Geralt

It turns out that the NCOSE does not like adult games either.

When Valve announced in 2018 that some games would be pulled from Steam if they didn’t remove so-called pornographic content, they quickly changed their minds after an online firestorm. The NCOSE responded by calling them cowards in a statement on their website:

“In our current #MeToo culture, Steam made a cowardly choice to shirk its corporate and social responsibility to remove sexually violent and exploitive videogames from its platform,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

The affected games?

Even in January 2020, they were still on HuniePop’s case, calling the game “candy crush with porn” and summarizing its gameplay as:

Once you beat a level, the player gets the ultimate reward: sex with the woman.

Now I don’t want to alarm anyone, but HuniePop is incredibly mild when it comes to sexual content in games. All of the sexual content is between consenting adults, there is no sexual violence of any kind in the game and it warns players beforehand that the game is intended for a mature audience.

What this tells us about the NCOSE is that there doesn’t seem to be a middle-ground with them: they want to get rid of your anime waifus on Steam just as much as they want to get rid of adult-on-adult action.

Further reading

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Until next time!

-Mr. Hands