OnlyFans faces probe over claims children could access adult content

The OnlyFans logo is seen on a computer monitor. 7 Dec, 2023.
The OnlyFans logo is seen on a computer monitor. 7 Dec, 2023. Copyright Jeff Roberson/AP
Copyright Jeff Roberson/AP
By Eleanor Butler
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UK watchdog says the video-sharing site used by sex workers lacks robust age-verification checks.


Communications regulator Ofcom has launched an investigation into OnlyFans, a subscription-based platform, over concerns that children could be accessing sexually explicit content.

"We have grounds to suspect the platform did not implement its age verification measures in such a way as to sufficiently protect under-18s from pornographic material," said the UK watchdog in a statement.

Ofcom is also investigating whether OnlyFans failed to "provide complete and accurate information" when asked by the regulator about safeguarding measures.

When signing up to the streaming site, users' faces are scanned by software which estimates their age.

If the automatic scan fails, they must provide proof of identity, such as a driving licence or passport.

OnlyFans explained that it had recently experienced technical difficulties which had affected some age thresholds.

The site's face scanning software was allowing those aged 20 to access the site, rather than 23-year-olds.

OnlyFans claimed it had "proactively" reported the error to Ofcom and that it is working "to implement and develop best practices on online safety, including the use of age-assurance technology".

The watchdog will now examine whether OnlyFans' current thresholds are appropriate, and whether younger users may still be able to bypass these restrictions.

The Online Safety Act (OSA), introduced last year, gives Ofcom greater powers to monitor sites and apps with a UK presence.

In accordance with the new law, sites such as TikTok, Snapchat, and OnlyFans must implement robust measures to protect users.

The OSA is being implemented in stages and will replace the UK's current video-sharing platform regulations.

When fully implemented, the new framework will allow Ofcom to hand out fines to firms of as much as £18 million or up to 10% of the company’s global annual revenue - whichever amount is greater.

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