Women alone in their bedrooms have been the driving force of mainstream sexual desires for some time now. OnlyFans, private Snapchats and subreddits devoted to TikTok-adjacent masturbatory material have been both responsible for and products of this need for digital intimacy. Whether she’s participating in the latest trendy dance in a sports bra and athletic shorts, or offering a direct shot of her vulva, today’s adult content reflects the shared want to be an iPhone-camera sized fly on the wall of the girl next door.
Now during quarantine, we’re all at home looking at our phones. Millions of people are newly unemployed. The data shows we’re hornier than ever, and a growing number of people are newly banking on said horniness. More of us are watching porn, and more of us are making it. And the inevitable result of all this is that more pay-to-view porn is being leaked.
OnlyFans is reporting a 75 percent increase in users in March compared to the previous month, with 60,000 new creators and 3.5 million new users subscribing to said creators. Pornhub’s Verified Model network, which allows pornographic content creators to sell clips or profit from ad revenue, has grown by more than 30 percent. Twitch, YouTube and other non-adult, free platforms have experienced some growth, too, but there’s a key difference: Non-naked creators are far less likely to have their content stolen.
The amount of money to be made through OnlyFans varies, as does the level of pornography posted. Creators choose their own monthly subscription price, of which the platform takes 20 percent. The average subscription fee is around $5 to $15 per month. There’s also the potential for collecting tips and selling longer or more explicit content within the subscription platform. Some creators may make nothing, while others are making tens of thousands per month. Some may post homemade hardcore pornography, while others may only post suggestive partial nudes. Some may advertise their OnlyFans on their public Twitter and Instagram accounts, while others may create a different online identity and advertise on social media or Reddit this way.
Either way, maintaining a mystique that lures in new customers to cross the paywall is key. But just as this burgeoning market for DIY adult content has emerged, so have various methods of attempting to evade the cost. One such method is ThotHub, which describes itself as “the home of daily free leaked nudes from the hottest OnlyFans, Twitch, YouTube, Patreon models and streamers.”
A statement at the bottom of the site reads “THOTHUB.TV IS A PARODY. IT PROVIDES AN AUTOMATIC STREAM OF CONTENT SENT IN FROM E-GIRLS. THOTHUB IS THE BIGGEST E-GIRL SHOWCASE IN THE WORLD! JOIN NOW AND GET E-FAMOUS!” Yet although the site does offer an application process for women to become verified on the site and post their own content officially, a submission form on the site allows anyone to upload content, without proof of ownership. The terms and conditions state that the uploader must be the owner of the content, but there doesn’t appear to be any requirement for confirmation on the site’s submission form, beyond agreeing to the terms and conditions.
But even if everyone whose nudes appear on the site did upload themselves as a type of advertisement for their paid products, ThotHub is indicative of the fact that for many viewers, there’s a certain appeal to the idea that the content they’re viewing has been “leaked” involuntarily.
And indeed, content is truly leaked involuntarily often. OnlyFans model DaniCali says she’s concerned about her photos and videos being leaked “1,000 percent all the time.” She previously used a private Snapchat to share nudes, where she experienced multiple customers screen-recording/screen-shotting her posts and then blocking her. On OnlyFans, customers can hypothetically do the same thing, but OnlyFans offers more features and is better trusted by workers and customers alike, says Dani. Considering her content could still be stolen and distributed, however, she continues to be careful. “I’ve had my content stolen before,” she says. “Netflix has a feature when, if you try to screenshot or record any of their media, it blacks it out. I really wish OnlyFans, being the platform it is, would do that for us and our safety.”
“I search myself on sites every so often to check,” Dani continues. “Before I sell private content on OnlyFans, I always check the user’s profile. I had someone not tip or interact with me at all during their 30-day subscription, then on their last day tip $5 for a video and I refused to send it to them. There are ways and things that you can look out for. Real fans will spend money all the way through and set their account for automatic rebill. The people that don’t, I usually keep a closer eye on.”
Dani has been on OnlyFans for over a year, though. Newer creators, fresh to the platform, perhaps following the loss of their day job, may not know of such threats or techniques to prevent them.
Hannah (who has asked to remain anonymous) has only had her account for a week and a half, after COVID-19 concerns shut down the restaurant where she worked. “I had been considering it before I lost my job, but losing my job is what made me decide to go for it,” she says. “It’s been great. I’m making money and genuinely enjoying it. My subscribers are really respectful and kind. A lot of them have told me they’ve never subscribed to an OnlyFans account before, so I think that’s part of it. They’re as new to it as I am and that’s fun.”
Fortunately, Hannah is one of the newer creators who’s aware that her content could be leaked at any time, and so, she posts accordingly. “I’m not that worried about [being leaked],” she says. “I’m posting mostly lewds, not full nudes. When I post, I imagine the possibility of it being leaked and gauge how devastated I’d be if it happened. If I think it would ruin me, I just don’t post it.”
PinkPeach also recently decided to take the plunge into making OnlyFans content. “I’ve been contemplating it for some time, but I had reservations about starting one because obviously the internet is forever and future employers might have an issue with it,” he tells me. “I got it during this quarantine, though, because currently I have no source of income. I’m not sure if my employment insurance is actually coming in or not. And I’ve talked to a few people that I know who do OnlyFans — they told me they don’t actually post outright nudes or porn, just thirsty photos and artistic nudes that don’t show any outright graphic content.”
Since he already had some photos of him in his underwear on his Instagram, he decided it wouldn’t be too different to post some partial nudes on OnlyFans. Still, he’s scared of the repercussions it could have on his future. “One of my biggest concerns is my content getting leaked,” he says. “Thankfully, I can take legal action. However, it’s still gonna be harder to erase that from any public domains on the internet. Especially since I don’t know exactly what direction my life is going in, the unknown of what could happen is a little concerning.”
This is the bigger issue for creators anxious to keep their content secure. Leaks don’t just take the form of surreptitious screenshots from cheap or disgruntled fans — some are far more wide-reaching. In late February 2020, between 1.5 and 4 terabytes of OnlyFans original content was shared via cloud storage on Twitter, suggesting a massive hack. (A spokesperson for OnlyFans told BuzzFeed News that the platform had “investigated claims of a site-wide hack and found no evidence of any breach of our systems. The content contained in the supposed ‘leak’ seems to be curated from multiple sources, including other social media applications.”)
Some of these potential sources may have included ThotHub, or any of the numerous subreddits devoted to dispersing leaked photos and videos. Though OnlyFans’ terms and conditions prohibit the unlicensed distribution of content posted on the platform, creators have felt that OnlyFans does little to prevent leaks from happening. Further, in the event the platform was hacked, creators fear their personal information, including address, banking information and scans of their passport could be included.
Hannah says she’s aware that subreddits devoted to leaking nudes and sites like ThotHub exist, but “I don’t really care,” she tells me. Dani wasn’t aware of ThotHub, and likewise didn’t have much interest in the subreddits, as these groups typically target bigger creators. For the relatively small creators, compared to those who have tens of thousands of subscribers, the risk for lost income is relatively low — moreover, doing anything to truly prevent it, save for deleting one’s OnlyFans account altogether, seems like an impossible task. It’s an ever-present threat, but one seemingly so out of the average creator’s control that it’s not worth worrying about on a daily basis.
For now, then, the risks haven’t seemed to slow the growth of OnlyFans, particularly as so many people are either out of work and looking to make an income, or bored at home and looking to purchase pornography. But surely, as OnlyFans grows to house more and more internet hottie nudes, so too will the seedy forums that leak them.