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Has Bella Thorne Really ‘Ruined’ OnlyFans?

Content creators claim the former Disney Channel star’s presence on the site may be prompting changes that could slash their income

Bella Thorne attends the LA Premiere of Universal Pictures' "J.T. Leroy" at ArcLight Hollywood on April 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Rolling Stone reported that many sex workers were furious that actor Bella Thorne had made $2 million on OnlyFans, a subscription platform where creators sell content directly to their fans. Now, they’re even more outraged following apparent changes to OnlyFans policy that they say were implemented without warning.

According to multiple content creators who spoke to Rolling Stone, OnlyFans quietly issued a $50 cap on pay-per-view messages (essentially, exclusive content sent to paying subscribers), and a $100 cap on tips, without warning or announcing any policy changes. “There was no notification,” says Savannah Solo, a sex worker and content creator who was one of the many to tweet about their outrage over the change. “We are now just suddenly unable to [receive a] tip over $100 and price a PPV over $50.” OnlyFans also reportedly extended the timeline for payouts from seven days to 30 days, though it later clarified this change would only affect creators in specific countries.

Initially, these changes were ascribed to Thorne, who, according to screengrabs being shared on social media, promised subscribers nude photos for $200 (despite previously saying on her Twitter that she would not sell nudes). The rumor was that her subscribers attempted to get their money back when the photos only showed implied nudity, calling their credit card companies to reverse the charges.

Rolling Stone was unable to independently verify these screengrabs offering $200 nudes, and the capitalization of the username as well as the profile photo don’t match with those on Thorne’s official account. Thorne’s representation did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In response to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment, an OnlyFans spokesperson says, “Transaction limits are set to help prevent overspending and to allow our users to continue to use the site safely. We value all of the feedback received since this change was implemented and we will continue to review these limits,” adding, “We can confirm that any changes to transaction limits are not based on any one user.”

Yet even if the changes in policy were not prompted by Thorne, many OnlyFans content creators who are reliant on the platform — and were already furious about increasing celebrity gentrification — took to Twitter to complain about the impact of the supposed policy changes, causing Bella Thorne to trend.

“As a black and brown woman… I am deeply concerned about finances, especially now” due to the pandemic, says Paige, an OnlyFans content creator. “Only Fans had given me a moment to finally breathe and feel a bit more secure. Custom videos, sexting, tips… that’s half of the income I made on Only Fans. And these new policies are going to hinder my income potential.”

Many sex workers have interpreted Thorne’s lack of public support for the sex work community, combined with her joining the already-saturated OnlyFans market as preparation for a film role, as disregard for their welfare. “It threatens our livelihood when major celebrities join platforms for working class sex workers because it changes the market and, in Bella’s case, makes a mockery of the work we do,” Bea King, an OnlyFans content creator, tells Rolling Stone. 

Many sex workers said such changes were reflective of OnlyFans’ general lack of communication with its users. OnlyFans has a habit of changing policies constantly without telling us,” says content creator Cammi Starr, citing its recent imposition of a Value Added Tax (VAT) on European Union subscribers as an example. And as Rolling Stone has previously reported, it is not unheard of for sex workers to find that their accounts have been deleted overnight without warning or prior notice.

The platform has also been criticized for using SFW content creators in its marketing materials, rather than the sex workers who arguably helped to build it. There is even concern about OnlyFans pivoting away from allowing NSFW content as it becomes more mainstream, as Tumblr and other social platforms have previously done. “Us sex workers are NEVER recognized for what we do and how much we help platforms such as Onlyfans grow,” says OnlyFans content creator Bella.

Bella is one of a few sex workers Rolling Stone spoke with who mentioned that their frustration with the site had reached the point where they were considering leaving it, either to join another, more sex worker-friendly subscription platform or to start their own website. Others, however, are too reliant on the platform to even consider leaving it. “I can’t ditch thousands of subscribers just because I feel angry about their lack of communication,” says Solo. “[OnlyFans] is all I have.”

Fri., Aug. 28, 3:35 p.m.: This story has been updated with comment from OnlyFans. 

From Rolling Stone US