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Kids are using fraudulent personal details to sell explicit videos and imagery on OnlyFans.
A BBC News investigation has revealed a number of accounts launched by minors on the adult website, which boasts more than a million “creators” who share self-produced content to more than 120 million paid followers. In return, OnlyFans takes a 20% cut of all subscriptions.
Created in 2019, OnlyFans exploded in popularity last year, when many turned to the site as a financial lifeline during the pandemic.
The platform’s policy requires users to be over 18 years old and, in response to the BBC’s findings, insisted their verification process abides by regulatory requirements.
But the BBC uncovered reports of kids on the site as young as 12 years old. In one case, a 14-year-old used their grandmother’s passport to gain access to the site. And a 17-year-old in Nevada was featured in graphic videos posted to a legitimate adult account — his 18-year-old girlfriend’s — putting the account owner in violation of OnlyFans’ terms and conditions.
The BBC made their point when they used the ID of a 26-year-old to set up an account, demonstrating that anyone can steal personal details to bypass the verification process.
“Some of the girls have thousands of followers on Instagram, and they must be raking it in,” said one anonymous underage user. “I wanna be just like them.”
OnlyFans didn’t respond to The Post’s request for comment, but the company has reportedly shut down the accounts turned up by BBC.
However, reports from law enforcement in the US and UK, school administrators and other child-protection experts say the problem remains widespread. Meanwhile, anonymous caller notes from counselors from the UK’s Childline hotline support these allegations, with some also complaining that their images had turned up on the site without their consent.
At the same time, many of OnlyFans’ underage creators are allegedly victims of prior abuse, or suffer from mental illness, according to Childline. Some have even been identified as reportedly missing children.
“In 2019, there were around a dozen children known to be missing being linked with content on OnlyFans,” said Staca Shehan, vice president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). “Last year, the number of those cases nearly tripled.”
The BBC paraphrased a statement by OnlyFans claiming that their security efforts have protected minors from blackmail and exploitation, and takes immediate action on accounts in violation.
Last month, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) released its annual report which identified 68,000 cases of “self-generated” imagery — meaning they volunteered the content — of children online. This marked a 77% increase over the previous year.
The BBC spoke to one such underage OnlyFans user, 17-year-old Leah, as well as her mother, Caitlyn. Leah began on the site using a fake driver’s license, and promised she would only post photos of her feet in exchange for money. But her content soon escalated into videos of masturbation and other sexual acts as followers pleaded for increasingly explicit content.
OnlyFans has claimed that Leah’s engagement was an “oversight,” although her fake license should have triggered their security system. They said her account was approved during a transition period when the site was moved “from one effective ID and age verification system to a new exceptionally effective” version.
The BBC’s test showed that the “new exceptionally effective” system would no longer accept a fake ID, but underage users could still use an adult’s real ID to gain access. While OnlyFans requires users to submit a photo posing with their ID — to confirm the faces match — this effort was allegedly not enough to detect the difference between a 17-year-old girl who used a 26-year-old’s ID to launch an account.
Even after a user reported Leah’s true age to the site’s moderators, her account was again deemed legitimate upon a follow-up review. OnlyFans only shut down her account after the BBC’s inquiry. The same was true for a number of other allegedly underage accounts uncovered by the BBC, many of which had already been reported to police.
Leah, who had a troubled childhood, according to her mother, regrets her OnlyFans fame.
“She won’t go out at all, really,” Caitlyn said. “She doesn’t want to be seen.”
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