Fear and uploading in Singapore after OnlyFans creator charged over ‘obscene’ material

Other creators are on edge after arrest of influencer Titus Low, concerned their income streams could soon disappear because of ‘outdated’ laws

Technically, I would guess that 80% of people are criminals according to that law since most of us have downloaded porn before, or if you’ve ever sent a dirty pic to your partner, that too is a crime.”

One OnlyFans content creator, who goes by the online handle LucyToday, is among the many in Singapore who fear what the future holds after police decided to charge fellow creator and influencer Titus Low Kaide with transmitting what the police alleged were “obscene materials”. It is the first time an OnlyFans creator has faced prosecution in Singapore for sharing such content via the platform, according to local media.

It’s had a chilling effect on the OnlyFans community, says LucyToday, whose posts include nude images and those of a sexual nature. “Myself and other content creators are worried.”

OnlyFans is a content subscription service that allows creators to post original material of any genre – including music, art, food as well as adult content – while fans pay a monthly subscription to access it. Launched in 2016, it has more than 150 million registered users, some of whom were part of an influx seen amid the pandemic as people looked for alternative ways to make money.

Lucy was posting similar content on other sites free but joined OnlyFans in August last year to monetise it. She says she’ll continue to use the platform for now, hoping the government will change its “outdated and draconian laws”.

Onlyfans creator Titus Low, who has been charged in Singapore over the material on his account.

Jada Saur, a content creator from Canada who previously lived in Singapore, fears the stance taken by authorities could cut off a significant income stream for many users. Saur joined OnlyFans at the start of the pandemic and says the income from posting nude photos and sexting will help put her through acting school.

“It’s super scary because I think a lot of people are going to stop making OnlyFans content,” Saur says, adding that others might take steps to hide their identities on the site to avoid prosecution.

Saur wonders if the reason Low, 22, was targeted when many others use the site is because of his creation of “guy-on-guy content”. Homosexuality remains illegal in Singapore.

A matter of consent

Low faced a district court on 30 December last year, charged under the country’s Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, which makes it illegal to transmit any obscene materials by electronic means. He was accused of sharing explicit photos and videos as well as failing to comply with a police order not to access his account.

If found guilty, Low could face prison time as well as multiple fines.

In a video posted to his YouTube on Thursday, Low described his initial arrest, saying five police officers turned up at his house and confiscated his phone and all his online details.

OnlyFans was his main source of income before the investigation, he says, and that it helped him escape a difficult background. Without that income, he says he’s in “a tight spot”.

Low doesn’t know who filed the police report that led to the the charges but hopes the incident will “get people thinking about how inclusive our society is in 2022”.

Some, including Low, have questioned the premise of the charges. “We don’t force you to watch our content,” Low says. “It’s not open for public consumption.”

“I create specific content for specific adults. We are both willing buyer and seller,” he adds.

Critics have said Singapore’s laws are ‘outdated and draconian’ in the digital age.

Shailey Hingorani, head of research and advocacy at women’s rights and gender equality group Aware, agrees, given the images were being shared consensually. “An informed and enthusiastic exchange is taking place, and nobody is being hurt,” she says.

During the next Penal Code review, Hingorani suggests “laws pertaining to sexual activity of any nature should be relooked at to keep up with society and technology, with the principle of consent as a basis to determine legality.”

Until then, Project X, a nonprofit supporting sex workers in Singapore, says the move “has struck fear and panic in many adult content creators, who now worry that their livelihoods will be completely upended and their personal liberty threatened.”