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Congresswoman Ann Wagner Leads Bipartisan Coalition Calling for DOJ to Investigate OnlyFans for Child Exploitation

Aug 10, 2021
Press Release
Wagner and 101 Members of Congress requested DOJ investigate the prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse Material, missing or abducted children, and potential solicitation involving content sold on the website

Washington, D.C.  – Today, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), Chair of the House Suburban Caucus, led a letter with 101 of her Republican and Democratic colleagues to the United States Department of Justice.  This letter calls on Attorney General Merrick Garland to conduct an investigation into the website OnlyFans.com, focusing on the prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) on the website and the specific actions OnlyFans takes to ensure minors are protected from exploitation. The presence of CSAM on OnlyFans is undeniable and it appears OnlyFans does not have adequate safeguards or protocols in place to notify the proper authorities when CSAM is found on the website.

The Members said: “With the COVID-19 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. Of particular concern is the website OnlyFans.com, which has become a major marketplace for buying and selling Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in the United States, as well as soliciting sexual activity with minors. We write today to call your attention to potentially illegal activity, including child sexual exploitation, that this website is facilitating. We request the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the content sold on OnlyFans.com, as well as the policies, or lack thereof, that OnlyFans employs to report instances of CSAM or child exploitation on their platform.”

“With the rise in child sexual abuse material online, the U.S. Department of Justice should investigate the growing number of reports by law enforcement and child safety organizations that minors are being sold on OnlyFans. Instances of sex trafficking and image-based abuse through OnlyFans are also coming to light. Like the other major companies in the commercial sex industry – Pornhub, XVideos, XHamster – OnlyFans preys and profits from abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people, and potential criminality must be investigated,” said Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE).

“Online platforms profiting from user content subscriptions must be aware of the inherent risks this model presents to children without appropriate safeguards in place. Children and user safety should not be an afterthought, but a priority of online platforms from launch to current day. Online platforms must utilize sound business practices to help assure they are doing everything possible to prevent child sexual exploitation on their site. Content subscription platforms should prioritize children and user safety as much as they value their bottom line.” said the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

"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" said Lena Walther, Co-Founder of Awareness is Prevention. "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," she continued. 

The full letter is below, and you can see the complete list of Members here.

 

 

The Honorable Merrick B. Garland
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Attorney General Garland,

With the COVID-19 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. Of particular concern is the website OnlyFans.com, which has become a major marketplace for buying and selling Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in the United States, as well as soliciting sexual activity with minors. We write today to call your attention to potentially illegal activity, including child sexual exploitation, that this website is facilitating. We request the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the content sold on OnlyFans.com, as well as the policies, or lack thereof, that OnlyFans employs to report instances of CSAM or child exploitation on their platform.

The presence of CSAM on OnlyFans is undeniable. Over the past two years, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has seen a continuously increasing amount of CSAM and child exploitation on OnlyFans. In 2019, NCMEC indicated it was aware of 10 cases involving missing children associated with content sold on OnlyFans. In 2021, NCMEC has identified at least 80 cases in which missing children were linked with OnlyFans content. Moreover, in 2021, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) named OnlyFans one of the top contributors to online sexual exploitation in the United States.

It appears OnlyFans does not have adequate mechanisms in place to notify the proper authorities when CSAM is found on the website. Earlier this year, law enforcement in Florida’s Miami-Dade County arrested two adults for human trafficking, possession of a sexual performance by a child, and promoting the sexual performance by a child. According to law enforcement officials, these arrests were only made possible when a friend of the underage girl saw videos of the victim being exploited on OnlyFans and notified the authorities. 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.

Based on the concerns outlined in this letter, we request that the Department of Justice utilize its authority and resources to conduct a robust investigation into OnlyFans focused on:
 

  1. The prevalence of CSAM on OnlyFans, and what measures, or lack thereof, OnlyFans employs to prevent, reduce, and respond to CSAM on its platform.
  2. The prevalence of missing or abducted children linked to content on OnlyFans, and the measures, or lack thereof, OnlyFans employs to report such instances to law enforcement.
  3. The use of direct messaging on OnlyFans to solicit prostitution, and the extent to which minors are solicited for prostitution or other services related to sexual activity.

We appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

 

Sincerely,