A new study on OnlyFans – the controversial entertainment app and service that provides basically private one-on-one webcam services – found that its users, both men and women, actually reported that they had positive experiences from using the service.
We have all heard the OnlyFans success stories, mostly about women. A former teacher or McDonald’s worker made it rich from the service, making hundreds of thousands a month from sharing private videos. Then there are all of the stories about how a woman teacher or police officer was fired when their OnlyFans work was uncovered. But it did not matter because they were making so much money the person no longer needed the job.
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So, how does OnlyFans work? Basically, the customer pays for a private time watching someone take off their clothes. And now even celebrities like Iggy Azalea and Bella Thorne have found that they can bring in a lot of money with their own OnlyFans accounts. But the celebrities don’t necessarily take their clothes off for their fans. Sometimes it’s just about letting people meet them.
The three authors of the study included a professor and researcher in Public Health and Human Sexuality, a professor and researcher in Educational Psychology, and one graduate student in Psychological Science. They first identified codes and themes within the data individually, and then discussed and synthesized their insights in a committee-approach until a consensus was reached.
The authors analyzed the qualitative data as a whole and then went back to examine the responses provided by content creators to determine if unique information was provided by this group in particular. We did not find unique information that was only provided by content creators and so we presented the findings based on all responses.
The study found that just maybe the service could provide something for all of those lonely unconnected people out there. And they also found that many women use it too, but, like with pornography, it has mostly male consumers.
Participants in the study told researchers that they somehow gained a “sense of community” within OnlyFans, specifically mentioning “social interactions,” “making friends to share wholesome moments with,” “learning how to connect with content creators” (procedural knowledge); and “learning about local content creators.”
The part about “wholesome moments” is the most surprising as OnlyFans is associated with pornography, not something most would describe as wholesome.
Participants also said they “learned that there are lot more people like me who want to explore and try new things but are afraid to say or show it.” But one participant also mentioned that “there are strange people and a lot of harassment,” out there on OnlyFans which probably comes as little surprise to most people.
The OnlyFans study’s lead author Marie Lippmann told PsyPost, “Formal sexuality education curriculum varies widely throughout the United States, and individuals may seek out additional information about sex and sexuality from informal media sources and online platforms. We were interested in understanding learning on OnlyFans, given that it is such a widely used and novel platform.”