The rise in unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many people to look for alternative sources of income, including Alec Nysten who has thousands of followers on subscription-based social media platform OnlyFans.
- Mr Nysten set up a subscription-only account to provide a family income
- Images of Mr Nysten have since been stolen by a number of websites
- Authorities warn of clear dangers with posting intimate content online
Mr Nysten’s followers pay $10 a month for explicit images and videos.
“I’m an entertainer on Instagram and I got some offers to make some pornography, some solo pornography, I just took that up and now I upload porn to a website called OnlyFans,” he said.
But Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, has warned those sharing explicit images online there is a risk content will be stolen and used on other websites.
“There are a lot of rogue porn sites out there that profit from being able to show this kind of intimate content, and they will actually charge victims money to get that content taken down,” she said.
Porn subscriptions provide a family income
Mr Nysten, 28, said his subscription-based account had been a good way to earn a steady income while living in regional Western Australia.
“I’m from Bunbury, [it’s a] small town, there isn’t a lot of opportunities,” he said.
Mr Nysten also runs a clothing label, but for now his subscriber-only content is his main source of income and allows him to support his wife and two children.
But he faces major issues with theft of his images and videos, which users rip off and share on free sites.
“I don’t know who or how, but it seems to be constant,” he said.
“My content is always uploaded on [porn websites] for free, all different types of Twitter [accounts] upload me for free, several people [are] even pretending to be me and asking people to sign up and use my content that way.”
OnlyFans made headlines last year when hackers reportedly began leaking content, prompting anger from many of its content makers, although a spokesperson for the site denied it had been breached.
Mr Nysten pays anti-piracy companies to find and remove images that have been shared without his permission, but he said it was not completely effective.
“I pay them hundreds of dollars a month to try to find that content and pull it down,” he said.
“But I don’t even know if that does anything, it just seems to do a little bit.”
Explicit image theft a common problem
Ms Inman Grant said there were many companies that removed stolen images, but they often only scratched the surface.
“I think they can do it but we’re all playing a game of ‘whack-a-mole’ right now.”
She said her agency had noted an increase in the number of Australians turning to paid explicit content as a way to supplement income during the pandemic.
But she said there was always a risk images could be stolen.
“The laws here in Australia are strong and we’re the only agency in the world that does this kind of work that has legal and regulatory powers behind us,” she said.
“But it can end up anywhere in the world, depending on the site.”
Risk extends to anyone sharing images online
Ms Inman Grant said anyone sharing images online should be wary.
“Whether it’s with a friend over text or on an established website that purports to have security measures in place, you’re always going to be at risk,” she said.
“We provide a service where we can take down intimate images, but we can never guarantee they won’t pop up again.”
The eSafety Commission is also urging Australians to report threats to share images, known as “sextortion”.
Scammers may steal images from a private social media page or from behind a paywall and threaten to share it publicly unless the owner pays them.
Ms Inman Grant said anyone who was concerned about images being stolen should gather as much evidence as possible and report it to the eSafety Commission website — esafety.gov.au.
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