You may not know actress Bella Thorne off the top of your head, but you probably know who she is. In addition to being a Disney Channel alum — she starred as CeCe Jones on Shake It Up (2010 – 2013) — she’s appeared in Netflix’s The Babysitter and as a contestant on The Masked Singer. Recently, though, she’s been making a big name for herself with a scandal involving the website OnlyFans.
And boy, is this a weird one…
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Who Is Bella Thorne?
Bella Thorne is an actress and model who has mostly. Her most famous role is as CeCe Jones in the Disney Channel show Shake It Up, which ran for three years in the 2010s. Still, despite not quite achieving A-List fame, Bella has made a name for herself online. She boasts nearly 24 million Instagram followers and 6.7 million Twitter followers.
On her Instagram, she often shares racy selfies and influencer-esque content. Which honestly makes her seem like a perfect fit for OnlyFans, a notorious website you may or may not have heard of…
What Is OnlyFans?
OnlyFans is a content subscription service, similar to something like Patreon, where creators make money via users who subscribe directly to them. In theory, the platform could be used to sell any type of content, but in practice, OnlyFans has really become the go-to platform for adult film performers and sex workers both amateur and professional.
In short, fans sign up to follow their favorite “creators,” and for a monthly subscription fee, they are given exclusive access to the content shared by said creators.
Again, in the context of OnlyFans, many fans use the platform to subscribe to creators producing “adult” content (photos, videos, etc.) Because of this, OnlyFans has become the premier platform for sex workers and adult film actors, who feel they can more safely work and make money in this format.
What Happened Between Bella Thorne and OnlyFans?
In August, Thorne announced she was joining OnlyFans. She started by charging a monthly $20 subscription for fans interested in accessing her content. She stressed that she did not plan to share nude photos of herself. Instead, it seems, she shared vaguely racy content, not all that dissimilar to what she already shares on her Instagram account.
In an interview with Entrepreneur, Thorne said, “Only Fans is a paid platform, very similar to Instagram but uncensored. I am using this platform as an uncensored and more intimate way to connect with fans.”
After joining the platform, it was announced that Thorne raked in more than $1 million in just 24 hours. She was allegedly the first person on the platform to earn such a sum. That number allegedly exceeded $2 million in under a week.
So What’s the Problem?
There are a few problems, actually.
For one thing, fans excited to follow Thorne on OnlyFans were somewhat disappointed to learn she was not planning on sharing explicit content. Again, OnlyFans is “known” for its adult content, so you can understand their confusion. Some fans even claimed that Thorne charged an additional $200 (on top of the subscription fee) for “pay-per-view messages” and photos that were not exactly what they were expecting.
Secondly, and more importantly, Thorne’s presence on the platform deeply upset the less-famous creators who rely on income generated by their OnlyFans account to make a living. Below, see a few tweets from upset OnlyFans creators who voiced their frustration with the Thorne situation.
But it gets worse. Because Thorne earned so much money so quickly, it is alleged that OnlyFans changed some transaction limits on the site. This allegedly meant longer payout times and caps on certain kinds of transactions, all of which hurt sex workers who depend on the platform and not Thorne, who has means well beyond her OnlyFans account.
OnlyFans claimed that “any changes to transaction limits are not based on any one user,” referring to Thorne. But the result remains the same, and the original OnlyFans creators remained very vocal about their frustration.
At some point, Thorne attempted to claim this entire scandal was actually for a film project. She claimed she was working with director Sean Baker (The Florida Project, Tangerine) and that this OnlyFans exercise was essentially research for a role. Baker completely denied this.
Bella Thorne Issues Apology to Sex Workers After OnlyFans Debacle
After more than a week of back-and-forth (and a lot of money moving around), Thorne finally took to Twitter to apologize for her role in this scandal.
Read her full statement (compiled from her tweets) below:
“PT1 Remove the stigma behind sex, sex work, and the negativity that surrounds the word SEX itself by bringing a mainstream face to it that’s what I was trying to do, to help bring more faces to the site to create more revenue for content creators on the site.
I wanted to bring attention to the site, the more people on the site the more likely of a chance to normalize the stigmas, 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 p*** against the high brows of my peers and managers because I WANTED to help with the stigma behind sex.
…I am a mainstream face and when you have a voice, a platform, you try to use you in helping others and advocate for something bigger than yourself. Again in this process I hurt you and for that I’m truly sorry.
Ps. I’m meeting with only fans about the new restrictions to find out why!!! This is f****d up and I’m sorry comment any ideas or concerns you want brought up to OF!! and send me your links and a pic so I can promote you guys– Bella Thorne on Twitter
As of this writing, Thorne’s OnlyFans account is still active and accepting subscribers.
Matt is a writer, editor, and content strategist currently based in Washington state. He has worked as a managing editor for the iconic I Can Has Cheezburger, Celebuzz (a SpinMedia site), and now Mamas Uncut. He also acted as the Social Media Director for CafeMom.
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