Online Sex Work Platforms

Online sex work “refers to the exchange of sexual commodities and services via the internet” [1]. Online sex work includes services marketed online that are then “delivered in physical space” [1]. Other forms of online sex work are accessed or delivered through the internet.  This includes traditional pornography websites, subscription-based pornography websites, and live webcam modeling websites. In addition, many sex workers use social media as a way to connect to clients and build community. 

Escort Websites

Online escort websites usually officially advertise “dinners and dates” [2]. However, escorts “are in fact ‘call girls’ and the service is a front for ‘indoor’ prostitution”  [2]. “Indoor prostitution” refers to sex workers working as escorts, in “massage parlors” and brothels, and as “call girls” rather than walking the streets to find clients [2]. Like outdoor sex workers, escorts perform sexual acts with paying clients. However, escorts can “typically have more control over the working conditions and can refuse clients” which “decreases an indoor prostitute’s chances of victimization” [2]. Online escort advertisement websites provide sex workers with “anonymity, convenience, and discretion to target and advertise to a particular type of clientele” as well as allowing “escorts the opportunity to attract and match with clients who otherwise would not have patronised sex workers on the street” [3]. Advertisements generally include a written description of the escort and “clothed, semi-nude or nude” photos of the escort sometimes with the escort’s face crapped or blurred out of the image [3]. One of the most popular escort websites is Escort Babylon. Escort Babylon is a free website that allows users in the United States and Canada to search for escorts in their area. Users are also able to read reviews left my other clients on sex workers’ profiles.
Porn Websites
Pornography is defined as “sexually explicit videos, photographs, writings, or the like, whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal” [4]. Online porn websites display sexually explicit videos users can watch. Many popular pornography websites are free and generate revenue through ads displayed on the website and that play before explicit videos. The most popular porn site on the internet, PornHub, has both a free and a premium version. In October 2021, PornHub was the 8th most viewed website in the United States [5]. 
The sex workers who perform in the videos usually do not upload the videos themselves. While some amauteur porn is uploaded to free sites, popular videos that garner a large amount of views are usually filmed and published by porn production companies. Most porn performers have contracts with agencies that help them get hired by directors who work for poern production campanies. On film sets, “shoots last three to 22 hours long, depending on the scene”, and performers are “expected to provide their own wardrobe” [6]. Once performers leave the set of the adult film they performed in, they have little to no say in where and how the film will be published. 

Subscription Websites

Subscription-based pornographic sites allow users to view content when they pay a monthly fee. While traditional porn sites such as PornHub offer premium montly subscription to get rid of ads, subscription-based sites are largely amatuer porn that sex workers film and post themselves on their page on a host website. Sex workers creating and posting their own content have creative freedom and control that pornstars working for porn production companies do not. The most popular online subscription-based porn website is OnlyFans. OnlyFans started in 2016, but it gained popularity over the pandemic. OnlyFans now has “more than 90 million users and one million content creators” [7]. Anyone can create any kind of content for OnlyFans, but a majority of its content creators are sex works. Content creators on OnlyFans can earn money on a monthly basis from people who subscribe to their page as well as earn “one-time tips” through a “pay-per-view feature” [8]. OnlyFans also requires users to prove they are 18 or older with a government-issued ID. Additionally, “OnlyFans ensures that the content cannot be shared beyond the paywall” because “if a user tries to take a screenshot, it will show a black screen instead” and If a user is “caught trying to screenshot or record the screen” they are banned” [9].
Webcam Modeling Websites
Webcam modeling websites allow sex workers to livestream themselves for an audience. To start webcamming, sex workers just need “a computer, a decent webcam, access to a high-speed internet connection and a webcam hosting site” [7]. “The majority of performers are women” who are referred to as “camgirls” [10]. Camgirls on websites such as CamSoda make money through live shows, where “performers are tipped for performing sexual and non-sexual acts” , and “in private chatrooms” where “performers are paid by the minute for a private show” and “the customer can make requests for specific sexual acts to be performed” [10]. Performers are able to “accept or turn down audience requests at their own discretion” and  “set their own rates for private shows or fetish requests” [11]. They are also able to “block viewers who are rude or overly demanding from their chat rooms” [11]. Although Camming has “similarities with the traditional porn industry” such “virtual platform, a sexual context, and a variety of categories”, “its interactive nature and ability to provide a ‘customized’ sexual experience attracts visitors to video sessions” and sets webcam modeling “apart from traditional pornographic videos” [12].

Social Media

Social media has made gaining an audience for online sex work easier and helped create communities for niche and stigmatized sexual desires and dynamics. Sex workers caterging to specific BDSM dynamics and fetishes can build communities via social media platforms such as instagram, twitter, and tiktok. Sex workers' social media can serve as an advertisement for services they sell on other platforms. Unlike other social media platforms, twitter allows users to post explicit images which means sex workers are able to post teasers of the content they post behind paywalls. 
1 - “Online Sex Work: How the Internet Changed the Sex Industry,”, May 7, 2020,
2 - Burghart, Kristofor Oscar, “What’s on Sale? A Discourse Analysis of Four Distinctive Online Escort Advertisement Websites”, Sexuality & culture 22, no. 1 (2017): 316–335.
3 - Castle, Tammy, and Jenifer Lee, “Ordering Sex in Cyberspace: a Content Analysis of Escort Websites”, International journal of cultural studies 11, no. 1 (2008): 107–121.
4 - “Pornography Definition & Meaning”,, accessed December 9, 2021,
5 - “Top 100: The Most Visited Websites in the US ,” Semrush Blog, accessed December 9, 2021,
6 - Aurora Snow, “This Is What It's Really like to Work in Porn,” Fortune (Fortune, January 14, 2020), 
7 - Catherine, Del Monte. “OnlyFans and Changing Sex Work Stereotypes”. Cape Town: Daily Maverick, 2021.
8 - Mia Jankowicz, “We Spoke to a Woman Earning More than $100,000 a Year Selling Explicit Content on Onlyfans - This Is Exactly How She Makes Her Money” (Business Insider, March 14, 2020),
9 - Seren Morris, “What Is Onlyfans, Who Uses It and How Does It Work?” (Newsweek, July 23, 2020),
10 - Staurt, Rachel. “The Sex Work Revolution No One Is Willing to Talk About.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, December 22, 2016. 
11 - Sofia Barrett-Ibarria, “Cam Girl Reality: An Enticing Illusion Leaves Many Models Poor and Defeated,” The Guardian (Guardian News and Media, January 14, 2020),
12 - Ekaterina Bays, “Exploitation or Empowerment? Women’s Experiences in the Cam Modeling Industry” (Scholar Works, 2009),
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