FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — August 30, 2021 — Washington, DC
When OnlyFans announced it was going to ban pornography on its platform they were clearly participating in a campaign to police, restrict, and punish sexual pleasure. The reaction from sex workers and their allies was swift and fierce. Without these efforts, this harmful campaign would surely have succeeded, and would have implications reaching well beyond the lives of sex workers. It could have restricted the freedom of anyone who wanted to post or view explicitly sexual content.
And it isn’t just policies like the one that OnlyFans nearly put into action. SESTA/FOSTA, an unconstitutional law enacted in 2018, is being challenged in Federal court (Woodhull Freedom Foundation vs. The United States of America). In addition to clear violations of the First and Fifth Amendments, the law makes it possible for people or platforms to be punished for actions taken in the past when the action was not illegal. Additionally, there are ongoing attempts to overturn Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which essentially says that the chalkboard isn’t responsible for what someone else writes on it. If these attempts are successful free speech on the internet will be a thing of the past.
These policies all claim to be aimed at goals we think everyone supports: fighting sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and child sex abuse. Yet, only platforms that embrace human sexuality are targeted, and they are targeted in ways that actually make it harder to fight human trafficking. Woodhull Freedom Foundation opposes human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual abuse in all forms. But laws like this won’t help us protect people’s human rights. Instead, they restrict our sexual freedoms and make it harder to protect the vulnerable.
OnlyFans did the right thing in reversing their original decision to ban pornography on their site. They faced Goliath in the form of the large payment processors and ultimately stood their ground. But that’s today. When pressure increases tomorrow, which site will cave?