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Sex work on your own terms? Using OnlyFans for porn isn't legal in SA

A number of people on social media are claiming to have made thousands of rands through their OnlyFans account.

A screenshot of the OnlyFans webpage. Picture: OnlyFans/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Online site OnlyFans.com has become a phenomenon around the world. Anyone with a strong social media following can sign up for an account, and get paid by their followers who subscribe to their accounts.

It's been around for a few years, but the site trended on Twitter on Tuesday after many found out how much money some are claiming to have made on the site by selling a nude photo or a sex tape.

The site can be used for any content creators who want to earn from their original content and is currently being used by YouTubers, fitness trainers, models, content creators, public figures and influencers for different types of content. But it's been increasingly used as a way to make money with their pornography.

OnlyFans is not a new concept. If you’re a frequent Twitter user, you may have probably came across a tweet or two of someone talking about "OnlyFans Twitter" or "Porn Twitter".

HOW DOES IT WORK?
You create a burner account where you upload nude images, videos of yourself or even porn. It’s then up to you if you want to show your face or not, but the requirements of the site and app make it easy for people to never have to reveal their identities. After creating this account, you then modify subscription fees to charge people for viewing your content. Think of it as an iTunes or Spotify monthly subscription. You can sign up as an earner or a subscriber.

A number of people on social media are claiming to have made thousands of rands through their OnlyFans accounts.

Some in the porn industry say the site deviates from the exploitative and discriminative ways of the traditional porn industry, allowing people to make money on their own with their own content.

But this digitised form of sex work has tempted many South Africans to possibly create their own accounts.

BUT IS IT LEGAL?

No. Sex work and pornography are not legal in South Africa. According to the Film and Publications Act of 1996, online pornography originating from SA is not legal. This is because of the difficulty in age-verification and the requirements needed for pornography to be distributed from designated, licensed physical premises.

South African activists, politicians and members of the public have recently been having conversations around decriminalising sex work and acknowledging sex workers as active participants of our economies. This digitised sex work may be an option for many, especially with President Cyril Ramaphosa last week signing into law the Films and Publications Amendment Act 11 of 2019 which criminalises revenge porn, among other offences concerning the distribution of pornographic material.

Basically, what this new law says is that if someone’s face is identifiable in the content distributed without their consent, the perpetrators would be hit a fine of up to R150,000 fine and/or two years in prison. But even if you are not identifiable, but there is some sort of identifiable content such as your name or birthmark, for instance, the sanction jumps to a R300,000 fine and/or a four-year term of imprisonment.

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