Bella Thorne’s OnlyFans “Scam” Is Hurting Sex Workers

Former Disney star Bella Thorne is apologising for an OnlyFans scam that made her $1 million in a day and reportedly harmed the job prospects of sex workers on the platform.

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Last week, the Shake It Up actress made her debut on OnlyFans and reportedly made $1 million on her first day. At the time it sounded impressive and empowering, until it was revealed how she became one of the most popular adult creators on the site and how it impacted actual sex workers who live off the money they make on the app.

In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Thorne explained that she signed up to OnlyFans as “research” for a new film she’s working on, charging people $20 USD (approximately $27 AUD) per month to access her feed. Then, it was revealed that she was offering a $200 pay-per-view nude, which was quickly dubbed a “scam” by sex workers on the industry after Thorne tweeted she wasn’t actually doing any nudity. 

According to sex workers on the platform and via Twitter, Thorne’s actions have now led to OnlyFans putting a cap on how much an OF creator can charge for their content, affecting how much they can charge-per-view and even get as a tip. Then, to make things even worse, OnlyFans extended the waiting period for creators to cash out their earnings from 7 days to 30 days, allegedly due to the en-masse refund requests for Thorne’s pay-per-view nudes.

As Instagram profile vixentemplateblog explains in an Instagram article about the scam’s toll on sex workers, a community who already rely on the platform’s virtual experience to maintain their jobs, “for many of us, accumulating large tips is how we pay our bills… Imagine trying to explain to your landlord to justify why you can’t pay your rent this month.”

Then, on the 30th of August, Thorne acknowledge the accusations against her.

“I wanted to bring attention to the site, the more people on the site the more likely of a chance to normalise the stigmas [about sex and sex work],” she said. “And in trying to do this I hurt you.”

“I have risked my career a few times to remove the stigma behind sex work, porn, and the natural hatred people spew behind anything sex related. I wrote and directed a porn against the high brows of my peers and managers because I WANTED to help with the stigma behind sex.”

Thorne then apologised, “this is fucked up and I’m sorry,” before revealing she is in talks to meet with OnlyFans to learn about the new restrictions, pledging anyone to send her “any ideas or concerns they want to br[ing] up to OF. And send me your links and a pic so I can promote you guys.”

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.