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Examining Ethics in the Age of OnlyFans

Emerging online platforms providing adult-oriented services, such as OnlyFans, present new opportunities for expression and entrepreneurship. However, these technologies also amplify risks regarding privacy, consent and unhealthy societal attitudes if used irresponsibly.

As both individuals and collectives, we must thoughtfully examine our responsibilities around ethical technology use.

The Rise of Subscription Fan Platforms

Subscription-based fan platforms like OnlyFans allow creators to monetize original adult content. Creators can build following, community and income by providing exclusive media to subscribers who pay monthly fees.

The OnlyFans platform currently hosts over 2 million creators and has paid out over $4 billion to them since launching in 2016. Over 150 million users now subscribe to OnlyFans accounts.

With the growing mainstreamization of online adult content, ethicists highlight urgent needs to mitigate emerging issues:

  • Non-consensual media distribution and deepfake pornography facilitating harassment and exploitation
  • Normalization of risky sexual behaviors lacking healthy context and constraints
  • Objectification and abuse increasing on social media

“Any new technology that allows pornography to become more available or more affordable is likely to increase the rate at which people consume pornography,” said Dr. Gail Dines, feminist scholar and professor emerita of sociology.

“We know that increased consumption leads to increased acceptance of what’s viewed. And mainstreaming porn also leads to believing the behaviors in it are normal.”

Platforms like OnlyFans hold responsibilities around preventing harms. But as individuals, we also must thoughtfully reflect on the ethics of how we engage with such technologies.

Respecting Consent, Privacy and Personal Security

Central principles in ethical technology use involve respecting consent, privacy and personal security. As both content creators and consumers, we must consider potential consequences of our actions.

Issues like revenge porn and deepfakes clearly violate consent and inflict severe psychological damages:

  • Over 3 billion people have had intimate images shared without consent
  • 59% of leaked intimate images come from hacked devices and cloud storage

To uphold consent and autonomy, creators must confirm all parties approve media before sharing it. Viewers should refrain from further distribution without permissions.

Protecting privacy is also paramount. Even subscription platforms have suffered major security breaches:

These incidents can jeopardize incomes, reputations and mental wellbeing. All stakeholders must implement robust cybersecurity defenses safeguarding sensitive data.

Promoting Healthy Sexuality and Relationships

Besides defending privacy, we share duties to foster healthy attitudes and behaviors regarding sexuality and relationships.

Unconstrained consumption of adult media poses risks of distorting perceptions, especially for younger audiences:

Instead of censorship, open dialogues and education around elements of healthy relationships prove important:

  • Mutual care, respect, trust, honesty, consent, communication, equality
  • Accepting all gender identities and orientations
  • Understanding healthy sexual decision making

"We need to equip young people with the skills to navigate pornography and reinforce that it is not a model for healthy, respectful relationships," said relationships and sexuality educator Laura McGuire.

Our Shared Responsibility

Technology platforms, creators, consumers and broader communities all contribute to shaping social environments. With great power comes great responsibility.

As we enjoy the opportunities of emerging media, we must also consciously constrain risks and harms. This involves both safeguarding vulnerable groups and providing guidance to those causing offenses unknowingly.

Collectively, through compassion and moral courage, we can build a future where technology uplifts human dignity for all.