OnlyFans hits UK regulator's radar for age-verification failures around porn access

U.K. regulator Ofcom is investigating OnlyFans, an online adult content subscription service, for failing to prevent children from accessing pornography through the platform.

Ofcom, the official regulatory body for the U.K.'s broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries, says it has grounds to suspect that OnlyFans' parent company, Fenix International Limited, failed to implement age-verification measures sufficiently.

The regulator is also investigating whether Fenix may have provided incomplete or inaccurate information as part of two information request notices issued by Ofcom — one in June 2022, and another in June 2023. These requests were designed to inform a planned Ofcom report into how video-sharing platforms (VSPs) such as OnlyFans were protecting children from restricted material.

However, Ofcom says that:

...the available evidence suggests that the information provided by OnlyFans in response to the two notices may not have been complete and accurate, and that the age assurance measures it had taken may not have been implemented in such a way as to protect under 18s from restricted material.

An OnlyFans spokesperson said that in addition to requiring all fans to provide a name and payment card details, the company uses a government-approved age-assurance provider called Yoti, which provides age-estimation technology through facial scans. The company said that a "coding configuration issue" in its report incorrectly stated it had set a threshold of 23 years of age in Yoti, when in fact the company had set it to 20 years of age. The spokesperson stressed, though, that the threshold was always above the legally required age of 18.

"OnlyFans discovered the reporting error and proactively amended our report to Ofcom," the spokesperson said in a statement issued to TechCrunch. "As the leading U.K.-based and regulated social media platform, OnlyFans works closely with Ofcom to implement and develop best-practices on online safety, including the use of age-assurance technology."


The U.K. recently rolled out new regulations under the Online Safety Act designed to govern online speech and media, but these rules won't start coming into force until later this year. Thus, Ofcom says its investigation is being carried out under existing regulations (the Communications Act 2003) that were amended in 2020, stipulating that VSPs based in the U.K. must take "appropriate measures to prevent under-18s from accessing pornographic material."

Ofcom has been the U.K.'s official VSP regulator since 2020.

It's worth noting that Ofcom's investigation relates only to U.K. "fans" accessing the OnlyFans platform, rather than the content creators themselves who already have to provide identification to verify themselves through their onboarding process.