London-based platform Onlyfans, which is mainly used for the sale of pornography, apparently has a serious problem with the age verification of users utilising it to disseminate explicit content. According to extensive research by the BBC, with further police report backing, young people and even children use the platform to sell relevant recordings of themselves.

Consumers and content creators alike are primarily only allowed to use Onlyfans for adults, that is, only from the age of 18. But according to this report, age verification is apparently only implemented at a very shoddy standard, if at all. In some cases, for example, a forged driver’s license or the grandmother’s passport should have been sufficient for authentication.

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According to the BBC, it was able to reproduce this in an internal test. The team was able to create a content posting account for a minor using her 26-year-old sister’s passport.

Age Verification too Easy to Bypass

To verify the age, Onlyfans uses a system in which people first have to take a picture of themselves with an official document such as a driver’s license, ID card or passport and then transmit this picture to the service. According to the report, however, the system is evidently relatively easy to circumvent and thus offers a high potential for abuse.

In addition to police findings, the BBC also refers to numerous conversations with schools, child protection experts, parents or advisors from helplines for children as sources for research. All of them report that young people or even children, such as even a 12-year-old, were able to register with Onlyfans to create content and actively use this to sell relevant recordings.

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Likewise, content was also uploaded to the platform without consent – a a well-known difficulty for other operators of porn platforms, regardless of the portrayals of minors. Credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard have therefore ended their cooperation with services like Pornhub and introduced strict rules.

Onlyfans Reacts to Research

The operators of Onlyfans, on the other hand, refer to their strict age controls and the fact that they also use social media channels to determine the age of those registered. The service also deleted relevant accounts as soon as those responsible were informed.

Porn, A Lucrative Business

Onlyfans has grown massively, especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The service was able to increase the number of its users by more than tenfold in the past year, now boasting more than 120 million users.

Contents are so lucrative that operators paid out more than $2 billion to content creators in 2020, according to the Guardian. Onlyfans retains a commission of 20 percent for payments made through the platform.

In Nigeria, for example, the recordings made by children and adolescents fall under explicitly created criminal laws, according to which the possession or procurement and acquisition of such content is prohibited. The same is true in many countries around the world, not least in the United Kingdom, where Onlyfans is based.

In addition, production and distribution are also illegal. This means that the underage creators of the content are also liable to prosecution. According to the BBC, however, the police are rather reluctant to criminalize their behaviour and prosecute them.

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Most recently, politicians had repeatedly called for strict identification requirements for actors with pornographic content . Likewise, media watchdogs want the services and platforms such as Onlyfans to be strictly regulated with the aim of protecting minors.

 

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