OnlyFans allows social media influencers, including sex workers and adult content creators, to sell photos and videos to their audiences through a subscription model. But there are a number of tools that allow Internet crooks to upload and share photos and videos from OnlyFans profiles without the knowledge or consent of their creators.
In a new report, Motherboard looks at these tools and the underground rings that benefit from them. It’s fascinating, frustrating, and worth reading.
According to the scrapers who spoke to Motherboard, a user with “some basic technical knowledge” can use scripts called “scrapers” to browse the OnlyFans website and download large volumes of content.
“Some people have server farms that download terabytes of data every day from OF [OnlyFans]a developer from one of the OnlyFans scrapers, who we declined to name in this article to limit access to their tools, told Motherboard.
Some of these tools were Chrome browser extensions that give users the ability to download content directly from the OnlyFans site. Google removed an OnlyFans scratching Chrome extension when asked for comment by Motherboard.
But the types of tools varied, often requiring coding knowledge to operate. Motherboard has used some of these tools to verify that they are working.
A data collector, called DHRB, used a scraper to take advantage of promotions that allow users to subscribe temporarily for free. During the promotion, the script grabs as much content as possible, using a technique called “timed promotion sniping”.
“We completely scratched accounts with thousands of videos. We don’t compress anything either, since we prefer quality over storage space. Literally everything is scratched. Images, videos, audio and text, ”said the DHRB.
DHRB described what appears to be an OnlyFans content supply chain, with material sold from person to person, and a chain where original creators may not know their content is ending up.
“The data I collect is resold to a few customers who either own adult websites that host pirated content or people who resell content on Discord. However, I only manage OnlyFans, ”DHRB said. “It’s really just going down a rabbit hole. One person sells to another, then that person sells to another, and so on.
Motherboard reports that you can find this stolen content on popular porn sites including Pornhub, YouPorn, and XVideos, which then monetize the content with ads on the sides. Motherboard also found Reddit accounts featuring folders full of pirated videos and users selling OnlyFans accounts preloaded with stolen credits that buyers can use to purchase private media. Other users run Discord servers where they sell content or sell their scrapbooking services for a low price that undercuts the subscription price of accounts.
Industry professionals said Motherboard that the social stigma against sex work emboldens this theft. “Those who steal the content feel that it is their right to take it, that the creators deserve the violation because of the work they do,” said Kat Revenga, vice president of FanCentro, a competitor of OnlyFans. And several artists have noted that the risk of theft and piracy devalues their work and reduces the time and effort they are willing to devote to their content.
OnlyFans is far from the only platform where hacking is a problem. Corn MotherboardThe reports highlight the unique challenges facing creators and publishers of porn, especially at a time when such content is in high demand.