Porn Fights Washington: Everybody Gets Screwed
Andy Snyder|August 26, 2021
It was just last week when somebody explained to us what OnlyFans was… and what it offered.
“Hmmmm…” we thought. “Live and let live.”
And now, just a few days later, the adult-friendly site that allows at-home video creators to get paid directly by their viewers has found itself leading the headlines.
OnlyFans, these headlines proclaim, is the home for a lot of pornographic and otherwise explicit content. Each month, it pays out more than $300 million to its more than 1 million content creators.
For many of them, it’s their sole source of income.
Selling pictures and videos of themselves is how they chose to make their living. For some, it provides a seven-figure income.
The arrangement between OnlyFans and its content creators was pleasurable for everyone involved. The company turned 20% of its sales over to the “stars” of its programming. And with more than $2 billion in revenue… we have to assume viewers were happy too.
They handed over a lot of cash.
Thanks to this oh-so-rich three-way relationship, the company is currently valued at about $1 billion.
But, as you’ve probably heard, things have changed… and changed again.
Last week, the company shocked the underworld when it announced it was stripping erotic content from its platform. The content providers that made OnlyFans’ investors rich got pushed out of bed… naked, and with only a bit of cash on the nightstand.
Good, say the squeaky-clean.
Live and let live, say the freedom-minded. The company can do what it wants.
There’s plenty more porn out there, says the teenage boy who stole his mom’s credit card.
But there’s more to the story. A lot more… especially now that the sordid site has reversed its plans and hopped right back into bed with its erotic content creators.
Think About the Children Profits
Nearly every news piece penned about this move concludes that the porn ban was proposed to help protect underage users and underage or non-consenting content creators.
It is true that images of missing children have appeared on the platform. It’s a devastating fact that should have every user, investor and regulator embarrassed about their role in the situation. They should all be awake at night, not scrolling through the site’s feed, but looking for a solution to these heinous crimes.
Many say the ban was the best capitalistic solution.
After all, the reason OnlyFans had aimed to get rid of its not-safe-for-work content was that payment processors had shunned the company.
The card giants said they wanted nothing to do with the industry. They didn’t want their networks to be responsible for funding illegal activities.
Or it would be… if it were true.
If it were true (which the reversal proves it is not), it would be a win for the capitalist system. Let the porn hucksters do their thing… but let the free market decide who supports the system.
If the credit card companies don’t want porn money… they don’t have to take it.
Again, live and let live.
But the credit card companies do want the porn money. They became interested in cutting their ties with the industry only when regulators realized that putting liability on credit card processors was far more effective than creating new laws.
That’s where our nose crinkles.
That’s where capitalism and free markets run onto the hidden sandbar of dirty politics.
To be fair, some companies – like American Express and PayPal – have long banned the use of their cards for adult content. They started on the moral high ground and have held it.
Visa and Mastercard’s motivation, though, seems a bit less black-and-white.
To get to the heart of the matter, we have to go back to 2013. That’s when Operation Choke Point came to life.
Knowing new laws are (rightfully!) hard to pass and most fail to achieve their goals, the Obama Department of Justice went rogue.
It went after a host of industries that it deemed unworthy of the American consumer.
The list included everything from ammo sellers and coin dealers to fireworks retailers and, of course, porn sites.
The DoJ’s efforts were secret and illegal.
More than 900 pages of emails and depositions that were unsealed in 2018 showed that government officials targeted lawful businesses in what many say was an ideological crusade.
They forced banks and card processors into lawsuits. They put them under undue scrutiny. They started illegitimate investigations. And, in general, they made doing business hell.
One by one, these firms cut ties with the DoJ’s supposed enemies.
In one of the most damning pieces of evidence of the DoJ’s collusion, the head of the Atlanta regional division of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation wrote in an email, “I literally cannot stand payday lending.”
Despite no proof of wrongdoing or lawbreaking… every bank under this fella’s supervision ended its relationship with payday lenders.
Ammo makers, porn sites, payday lenders… almost all lost their traditional sources of payment processing.
No law was passed. No check or balance was triggered. And yet the White House got what it wanted.
It took four years before Operation Choke Point was discovered and officially deemed illegal.
Clearly, we’re still feeling the effects of it today.
What’s happened over the last week proves that dangerous things can happen when government and business get too big.
One backroom deal… one threat… or one judge who overlooks the law… can bring down a great capitalist system.
We say good for the companies that shunned porn and other immoral businesses on their own merits.
Let the free market choose.
But to hell with the companies and the so-called regulators that use morality as a cover for their nefarious dealings.
Our worry and our promise in all of this is quite simple…
We will see more.
We already are.
As our monetary system is pushed into the hands of few… as our nation thumbs its nose at the rule of law… and as we wrongly deny the merits of a live-and-let-live society… we’ll all be forced into a smaller and smaller box.
Freedom will be in the hands of few.
Pay attention. The truth is alarming.
Andy Snyder is the founder of Manward Press, the nation’s premier source of unfiltered, unorthodox views on money and what it means for a free society. An American author, investor and serial entrepreneur, Andy cut his teeth at an esteemed financial firm with nearly $100 billion in assets under management. Andy and his ideas have been featured on Fox News, on countless radio stations, and in numerous print and online outlets. He’s been a keynote speaker and panelist at events all over the world, from four-star ballrooms to Senate hearing rooms. Today, Andy’s dissident thoughts on life, liberty and investing can be found in his popular daily newsletter, Manward Financial Digest.