This week, more than 100 House members from both sides of the political aisle wrote a letter to the Department of Justice to investigate British-based platform OnlyFans for child exploitation and sex trafficking content.
The letter, led by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), explained how OnlyFans has played an instrumental role in the escalation of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in recent years. Back in 2019, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was aware of 10 cases involving missing children related to content sold on OnlyFans. In 2021, these statistics have soared. NCMEC has identified 80 cases, a number that's climbing, where missing children are linked to the dangerous platform. Fittingly, this year, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) identified OnlyFans as one of the top contributors to online sexual exploitation in the United States.
Today I called on the DOJ to investigate OnlyFans for child exploitation.— Ann Wagner (@RepAnnWagner) August 10, 2021
With the pandemic forcing our kids to spend more time isolated and online, it is our responsibility to ensure children are protected from bad actors operating via the internet.https://t.co/PkMLIsOJWh
“The presence of CSAM on OnlyFans is undeniable,” the letter states. “It appears OnlyFans does not have adequate mechanisms in place to notify the proper authorities when CSAM is found on the website.”
One example mentioned in the letter occurred this year in Florida, when two adults were arrested for human trafficking, possession of a sexual performance by a child, and promoting the sexual performance of a child – all of which were posted on OnlyFans. It was another viewer on the website who saw the content and notified the authorities rather than OnlyFans itself.
OnlyFans, unlike other platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, is a service where users can charge their viewers to see their content. The site has become popular among sex workers and garnered popularity throughout the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing our kids to spend more time isolated and online, it is our responsibility to ensure our children are protected from bad actors operating via the internet,” the letter states. “With more than 220 million monthly visitors on OnlyFans, the pervasiveness of CSAM on this website, as well as any business practices used to shield such content from scrutiny, must be investigated.”
Several of the signers shared their involvement in the letter on Twitter.
Proud to join 100 House colleagues of both parties, led by @RepAnnWagner, urging the Department of Justice to investigate @OnlyFans for child exploitation and sex trafficking. pic.twitter.com/qlNzNqfujP— Rep. Yvette Herrell (@RepHerrell) August 11, 2021
I teamed up with @RepAnnWagner and 100+ colleagues on this bipartisan follow-up letter to @TheJusticeDept regarding missing children and child exploitation associated with @OnlyFans https://t.co/5NuVhX1Apk https://t.co/362If6Kboc— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) August 10, 2021
We have a responsibility to protect young Americans from harmful predators on the internet. Proud to join @RepAnnWagner in demanding the DOJ investigate OnlyFans for child exploitation. https://t.co/6ms112TXRO— Rep. Barry Moore (@RepBarryMoore) August 11, 2021
Proud to join @RepAnnWagner's letter to the Attorney General calling for an investigation into the content sold by OnlyFans. We have a responsibility to protect young Americans from platforms that promote sexual exploitation and unsafe online environments. https://t.co/hhupVwIjBb— Rep. Burgess Owens (@RepBurgessOwens) August 11, 2021
I joined @RepAnnWagner in sending a letter to the Attorney General calling for an investigation into OnlyFans. Our children need to be protected from online exploitation on websites that aren't held to adequate online safety standards. https://t.co/g8JvYd8GUe— Representative Lisa McClain (@RepLisaMcClain) August 11, 2021
In a press release, Lena Walther, co-founder of sex trafficking awareness nonprofit Awareness is Prevention, praised the bipartisan effort:
"The alarming increase of child sexual abuse material and human trafficking being promoted on the OnlyFans.com platform requires immediate attention by the U.S. Department of Justice, state and local law enforcement, and payment providers whose products are being used to purchase troubling content on this platform," Walther said in the statement. "I commend congressional leaders from both parties for encouraging greater scrutiny of OnlyFans.com through this letter and strongly urge a thorough investigation at the highest level of law enforcement."