In late 2021, Singaporean OnlyFans content creator Titus Low made headlines for being possibly the first Singapore content creator to be charged with an offence for transmitting obscene content on the OnlyFans platform.
For the uninitiated, OnlyFans is a British-run social media website launched in 2016 where creators upload pictures and videos while users pay to access creators’ content. The platform is subscription-based – users must pay to view a creator’s content, and all creators and users must be at least 18 years old. The controversial website hosts a range of G-rated content, but is most well-known for hosting sexually explicit material to its users.
This article will cover:
Is It Legal to View Content on OnlyFans in Singapore?
If you plan to view the content on OnlyFans, you might be reassured to know that it is not illegal to watch pornographic material online in Singapore. In fact, the Singapore government currently has no plans to ban the platform, though it stressed that the platform must not expose young Singaporeans to the “risk of exploitation and abuse”.
Apart from viewing content on OnlyFans, viewers might want to save a copy of the content for offline consumption. Under the Films Act, however, it is illegal to keep, possess, or download obscene materials. The Films Act considers a material to be “obscene” if it is likely to “deprave or corrupt” viewers.
For keeping, possessing, or downloading obscene materials, you might face a maximum fine of $20,000 and/or be jailed for a maximum of 6 months under the Films Act. The penalties are doubled if you are aware that the film you are in possession of is obscene.
To find out more about the legality of pornography in Singapore, do visit our article on Singapore’s laws on pornography.
It is also illegal under the Penal Code to possess and/or distribute obscene materials by electronic means for any purpose – for example, by sending them to your friends electronically. If you do so, you may be imprisoned up to 3 months and/or be fined.
In sum, you are free to whip out your credit card and view any kind of content on OnlyFans – even if the content is sexually explicit. However, you might commit an offence if you download or transmit obscene materials electronically, such as by screenshotting or downloading the material.
Is It Legal to Post Content on OnlyFans in Singapore?
Since the advent of OnlyFans, sex workers have utilised the platform as an easy and relatively safe way to earn money. However, unlike how users may legally view any kind of content on OnlyFans, it is illegal to post sexually explicit content on the platform in Singapore – even if the posts are made consensually.
As stated above, it is prohibited under the Penal Code to possess and distribute obscene materials by electronic means for any purpose. If you do so, you may be jailed for up to 3 months and/or be fined.
Under the Films Act, it is illegal to make, distribute, or possess any obscene film if you have reasonable cause to believe the film is obscene. If you do so, you may be jailed for up to 2 years and/or be fined a maximum of $40,000 for a first offence.
Separately, under the Undesirable Publications Act, you might face a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years if you have in possession obscene materials for the purpose of selling, exhibiting or distributing them.
With the above in mind, it is the posting of sexual content that is illegal in Singapore, not the platform that you post it on.
For example, in March 2021, one of the administrators behind the infamous “SG Nasi Lemak” chat group on Telegram was sentenced in court for circulating pornographic material. He was jailed for 9 weeks and fined $26,000 for 6 charges including possessing obscene images and films, transmitting obscene material, and using Twitter and Telegram to post ads of sex workers.
Additionally, if you advertise and sell your explicit content on OnlyFans, the fact that the content distribution was done for commercial gain might be considered an aggravating factor that justifies a more severe sentence.
Is It Legal to Post on OnlyFans Overseas as a Singaporean?
Even if you post sexually explicit content on OnlyFans while overseas, you could still be charged for transmitting obscene materials if you subsequently enter Singapore.
According to Singapore Management University associate professor Eugene Tan, “while the Penal Code generally does not have extra-territorial jurisdiction, a Singaporean or a foreigner who uploaded the material overseas and subsequently enters Singapore could potentially be dealt with by the law”.
It seems that this is because the relevant provisions that restrict the act of posting sexually explicit content on OnlyFans do not require that the content was uploaded while the offender was physically in Singapore. This means that even if you had uploaded sexual content while overseas, Singapore would have jurisdiction over you when you are physically in Singapore. As a result, you can still be charged if you later enter Singapore.
What If You Post Content That Could Stir Up Racial or Religious Hostilities, Infringe on Others’ Intellectual Property Rights, or Other Illegal Activity?
It is prohibited to post any content that might stir up racial or religious hostilities or infringe on others’ intellectual property rights on any online platform.
If you intentionally wound the religious or racial feelings of others, you might face a jail term of up to 3 years and/or a fine under section 298 of the Penal Code.
Also, if you intentionally infringe others’ intellectual property rights, such as by intentionally infringing copyright for a commercial advantage, you might face a jail term of up to 5 years or a fine of up to $100,000. The owner(s) of the intellectual property might also sue you for infringing upon their rights.
Will You Get Charged With an Offence If You Post Potentially Illegal Content on OnlyFans?
As should be clear by now, you run the risk of being charged in court if you post any kind of potentially illegal content on OnlyFans.
That said, whether you are charged in the end is based on prosecutorial discretion – the freedom of the prosecution to choose who, when, and how to prosecute. Prosecutorial discretion is generally dependent on whether the supposed harm that you may have caused to society is worth the amount of public resources needed to prosecute the crime.
For example, Titus Low is definitely not the first or only Singaporean content creator to post sexually explicit content on OnlyFans. However, he was possibly the first person to be charged not only because a complaint had specifically been made against him, but also because the prosecution had determined that the matter was serious enough to prosecute him for his actions.
While you may view any kind of content on OnlyFans, you are prohibited from posting sexual content on the website. This is because such content is generally considered “obscene” in Singapore, such that the posting of it constitutes an offence. Granted, as the interpretation of obscenity is subjective and relative, whether or not the definition of obscenity will change in time to come remains an open question.
If you have been charged with an offence for posting, possessing or distributing sexual content in Singapore, you should consult a criminal lawyer. A criminal lawyer will help you gather evidence, and prepare a defence for your case, to get you the best possible outcome.