Fears for children and young people in Lanarkshire who post racy pictures of OnlyFans online for money
Children and young people in Lanarkshire could be at risk of exploitation by posting explicit images of themselves on a social media platform in exchange for money and lavish gifts.
Lured by the dream of sharing the glamorous lifestyles of the celebrities they follow online, a growing number of neighborhood youth are following the lead of A-listers by signing up to OnlyFans – a relatively new platform that has been widely picked up by the adult entertainment industry.
With around 50 million registered users and one million content creators, the site is primarily used for X-rated content, from underwear photos and videos to pornography. The number of subscribers has reportedly increased by 75% since the start of the lockdown.
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Launched in 2016, OnlyFans first became a source of money in America, which is why its pricing plans are in US dollars.
Content creators set their own prices, which range from a low of $ 5 per month to a monthly fee of $ 50 ordered by the top performers.
The content creator keeps 80 percent of the money paid by his monthly subscribers.
Model and reality TV star Megan Hanson, who has 1.6 million Instagram followers, claims to earn £ 800,000 a month from her OnlyFans presence.
Yet the meager monthly income of the average OnlyFans worker is only $ 154 (around £ 116), a far cry from the exorbitant incomes of A-listers like Hanson, Cardi B and Kerry Katona.
Detecting increased activity on OnlyFans among the younger generation in Lanarkshire, the Wishaw-based peer education project LANDED recently launched an awareness campaign aimed at those who come into regular contact with young people personally or professionally.
In an NHS funded position Lanarkshire, Laura McLean is a Sexual Health Development Officer at LANDED and leads the project promoting harm reduction messages, this time highlighting the potential consequences of involving young people with OnlyFans.
“Young people are talking to me and I know they are talking about OnlyFans. We hear it all the time, ”explained Laura.
“But the staff who work in North and South Lanarkshire don’t know what it is. Those who participate in our OnlyFans online session include police officers, teachers, nurses, NHS workers and host families. “
Although LANDED takes an impartial and non-judgmental approach to OnlyFans, the charity recognizes that there is a danger that children and young people could get involved with the site without realizing the wider implications.
Under UK law, to sell or distribute explicit content, you must be over 18 years of age. But there is currently no legal obligation for online platforms to monitor explicit content that might come from underage users.
The site requires anyone wishing to join OnlyFans to post a photo of themselves holding some ID to prove that they are over 18.
But a BBC investigation has uncovered suspected cases of teenagers claiming to have used the ID card of a friend or family member in order to gain access to OnlyFans.
“Only consenting adults should be given full autonomy to make decisions about their own bodies,” said Laura McLean of LANDED, who added her voice to broad criticism that OnlyFans’ level of safety does not go far enough. to make it inaccessible to people under the age of 18. .
“There is a risk that young people and children will access this site, and that people will get involved without knowing the big picture. Nothing is censored. It’s a situation where anything goes.
As the UK’s top child protection police officer, concerns about the safety of OnlyFans were expressed in May last year by the outgoing Norfolk Police Chief , Simon Bailey.
He said: “It is increasingly clear that OnlyFans is used by children and the company is not doing enough to put in place safeguards that prevent children from exploiting the opportunity to generate money. , but also so that children are exploited. “
Because workers control the content they choose to post and can be their own boss, exhibitors say OnlyFans empowers its workers.
But it’s also very competitive, with some feeling pressured to increase and retain their subscribers and income by posting more meaningful content that can take them out of their comfort zone.
LANDED is carrying this and other harm reduction messages to those who come into contact with Lanarkshire youth through an informative presentation that reveals how workers are offering their ‘fans’ a menu of services, photos and videos of underwear with images and filmed sequences of intimacy parts of the body.
Subscribers can also “tip” the worker of their choice by choosing from a menu of goodies, such as gifts of new lingerie, dinner or a nail salon, or by choosing from a wish list on Amazon. There are even options to satisfy those with a quirky fetish.
Laura cautions that not only does this give the “fan” a distorted sense of the relationship, it can also prove to be an expensive hobby for them.
And she fears an increased risk of stalking and predatory behavior targeting workers who advertise their OnlyFans presence on their social media accounts, through which “friends” or followers can find out about the region in which they live. It is claimed that workers were also asked to provide their address so that they could send them expensive gifts.
Creators of multiple content are also at risk of public recognition, Laura says, with some reporting declining sanity and feelings of anxiety when they are away.
She wonders if creators have the knowledge and experience to manage their own finances and pay taxes on their income.
And she fears that the increased financial pressures on young people and the dominance of social media in their lives may explain why so many people are signing up.
“Young people live their lives online, and this can make them more likely to think of this as a worthwhile career path,” continued Laura, who says social media is addictive, “j ‘loves “providing bursts of the feel-good hormone dopamine.
“Young people are oblivious to what they watch online. Combined with low wages, zero hour contracts, higher real estate prices, and limited employment opportunities, this can make OnlyFans more attractive.
If their flirtation with OnlyFans didn’t work, LANDED asks young people to consider how their association with her might hurt their prospects in the mainstream job market.
Laura said: “Through this harm reduction campaign, LANDED aims to raise awareness among young people, youth and health workers about the risks and consequences of being involved in OnlyFans.
“The question needs to be asked: is it attracting young and often vulnerable people to what could be a sanitized version of prostitution or a new breed of grooming? “
When Wishaw Press approached OnlyFans for comment, the company did not respond.
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