In April 2023, the parents of a missing 16-year-old girl from Florida discovered a horrifying truth while searching her phone: their daughter had been sending nude photos and videos to a man they feared had abducted her. This revelation led them to uncover a disturbing connection to OnlyFans, a popular platform for adult content. 

The girl’s father frantically told a 911 dispatcher about the man from New Jersey who had been receiving explicit content from his daughter. “Some guy just flew in from New Jersey,” he said, shocked and worried. “There’s some kind of sexual business and explicit photos… Something bad like that.” 

The following day, sheriff’s deputies found the girl partially naked in a rented house with the man, Ethan Diaz, 22, who had posted dozens of sexual videos and images of the girl on OnlyFans. One video, advertised for $20, showed the girl in an explicit act. Diaz was later charged with human trafficking and other offences, to which he has pleaded not guilty. 

OnlyFans’ Promises vs. Reality 

OnlyFans claims to be an adults-only platform with stringent measures to ensure all users are over 18. CEO Keily Blair stated, “We know the age and identity of everyone on our platform. No children allowed.” However, the Florida girl’s case and others like it undermine these claims. 

Between December 2019 and June 2024, Reuters documented 30 complaints in U.S. police and court records regarding child sexual abuse material on OnlyFans. These cases involved more than 200 explicit videos and images of minors. In some instances, the content remained on the platform for over a year. 

The Scope of the Problem 

The 30 cases documented by Reuters likely understate the extent of child sexual abuse material on OnlyFans. Public records obtained from over 250 U.S. law enforcement agencies revealed that while many agencies provided records, some heavily redacted them or declined to disclose cases involving minors. 

OnlyFans maintains that it aggressively targets and reports suspected child sexual abuse material to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and works closely with law enforcement. However, the company did not respond to many of Reuters’ questions about specific cases. 

Loopholes and Evasion 

Despite OnlyFans’ verification requirements, some adults exploit loopholes to post content involving minors. In the case of the Florida girl, Diaz set up an account using another woman’s identity. He then posted videos of the girl and promoted the content on social media platforms like Snapchat and Discord. He made about $10,000, paying the girl $1,500. 

Underage users have also managed to create OnlyFans accounts. Monie Graham, a 19-year-old from Maryland, admitted to setting up two accounts as a minor using an adult acquaintance’s driver’s license. Despite her mother’s attempts to report the content, the account remained live for weeks. 

The Role of Social Media 

Social media platforms play a significant role in promoting OnlyFans content. Creators often use sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to attract subscribers. Predators also use these platforms to find and exploit minors. In one case, a 15-year-old girl in Florida created an OnlyFans account to make money by posting nude images she found online. 

Legislative and Legal Challenges 

Current federal free-speech protections largely immunize social media platforms from liability for content posted by users. However, concerns about online harms, especially involving children, are prompting lawmakers to push for stricter regulations. In January, U.S. Senators criticized major social media platforms for failing to protect children adequately. 

OnlyFans’ heavy reliance on credit card companies like Mastercard, Visa, and Discover poses a risk. In 2020, these companies cut ties with Pornhub over similar allegations, impacting its revenue significantly. OnlyFans could face similar consequences if allegations of child abuse material persist. 

Enhancing Safety Measures 

The disturbing reality of child exploitation on OnlyFans reveals serious flaws in the platform’s safety measures. Netsweeper can address these gaps with its advanced content filtering, real-time analysis, and AI-driven detection. By integrating Netsweeper’s solutions, OnlyFans could more effectively prevent and block child sexual abuse material, enhancing collaboration with law enforcement and organizations like WeProtect Global Alliance and the Internet Watch Foundation to ensure a safer online environment.