Culture

Junk Explained: How Has Bella Thorne ‘Broken’ OnlyFans?

Thorne has been under fire for her OnlyFans over the last few weeks. But why?

Bella Thorne and OnlyFans explained

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Towards the beginning of this month, actress and pop cultural icon Bella Thorne announced that she was setting up an OnlyFans.

In a single day, Thorne earned a million dollars, an unprecedented amount of money for the site. And initially, the news was reported with titillated amusement by the press, who read it as a sign that sites like OnlyFans had finally hit the mainstream. But even in those early days, members of the sex work community worried that the move was a kind of gentrification of the platform, one that would spell out disastrous results for those who used it regularly.

Now, weeks after Thorne’s announcement, her OnlyFans appears to have done genuine damage not only to the platform, but to the people who require its services most.

How? Let’s dive in.

What Is OnlyFans?

OnlyFans, which has risen in popularity over the course of 2020, is a subscription-based service frequently used by members of the sex work community. The site’s ethos is simple — pay a monthly subscription fee, and get access to content uploaded to the site by creators.

Unlike Patreon, OnlyFans embraces explicit content. Sex workers can therefore use the site to sell pictures and videos to their audience, and, if they like, to chat to them as well.

The coronavirus has disrupted much of the sex work industry, moving it online.

On top of the monthly service fee, creators can also receive tips from their audience, and charge one-off fees for specific items of content, not included in the monthly price. Basically, the platform has been, despite some faults, a pretty adaptable, useful platform for sex workers to sell their content.

Of course, the importance of a site like OnlyFans has only increased for sex workers over the course of the year — the coronavirus has disrupted much of the sex work industry, moving it online.

Which is precisely why so many feel Bella Thorne has caused damage to the site.

How Did Bella Thorne Hurt OnlyFans?

From the outset, Bella Thorne revealed that she would only be selling non-nudes on OnlyFans. That in itself isn’t a problem — the platform is designed to be as flexible as possible. The issue arose, however, when Thorne allegedly charged for a one-off piece of content that she is supposed to have claimed was a nude. The price for that single photo, according to her subscribers? $200.

Moreover, when her supporters bought the photo, they claim to have discovered that they had been misled. The photo wasn’t a nude, allegedly: it was a lingerie shot. En masse, subscribers began to demand a refund.

Now, here’s the problem — having to process millions of dollars worth of refunds puts companies like OnlyFans at a loss. So, in the days after Thorne’s photo went out, the platform announced it was making changes to the payment structure. From hereon out, OnlyFans will introduce a tip limit, a pay-per-view message limit, and enforce a 30-day payout period.

That slows down the money hitting sex workers’ accounts, and also limits the amount of money that they can make at any one time. Such measures won’t hurt Thorne, who was already rich and famous before she came to the site.

But they definitely will hurt an already under-pressure community, and disrupt a much-needed source of income for sex workers.

It is worth stressing that OnlyFans has not claimed that the new measures are a direct response to Thorne. But the timing has led many online to make that connection.

What Is The Fallout?

From the very beginning of Thorne’s time on OnlyFans, it has been reported that director Sean Baker is planning to document her experience on the platform. The involvement of Baker, best-known for his filmsĀ Tangerine andĀ The Florida Project, sensitive looks at marginalised communities, surprised some. After all, as we have stressed, Thorne is a member of no marginalised community, but instead a rich and powerful celebrity.

Now, Baker has clarified his involvement, following the fallout. As he tells it, the documentary was meant to happen far in the future, and he suggested to Thorne and her team from the outset that they listen to the sex work community.

As to the response from OnlyFans, none has come yet. But in the meantime, if you’re a Thorne supporter, why not divert your money away from a rich ex-Disney star, and towards members of the sex work community who have been affected by this unfair change?