One of the internet's most popular creators says PayPal fined her after viral bathwater sale (2024)

One of the internet’s most popular adult content creators says PayPal fined her more than $90,000 after she went viral for selling a nontraditional personal item: water she had bathed in.

Belle Delphine, who had already developed a significant following as a livestreamer, became an internet sensation in 2019 after she sold out of $30 bottles of her used “GamerGirl” bathwater in three days. The move helped catapult her into a new level of stardom, which she later parlayed into even more success as an adult content creator.

On Monday, Delphine said that the viral moment hadn’t been as lucrative as she had claimed. She said on X that she actually lost money on the stunt and that PayPal is to blame.

“Since it’s been a couple years now I can finally share the biggest L I’ve ever taken,” Delphine posted on X, formerly Twitter. “Taking an L” is slang for taking a loss.

“Not only did I not earn any money selling my bathwater, I in fact LOST money doing it,” she continued. “PayPal without any warning closed my PayPal account and took the $90,000 that I earned from selling my bathwater. There was nothing I could do, I tried phoning them up and they just said ‘sorry, nothing we can do!’”

Delphine included a screenshot that showed a transaction in which PayPal took over $90,000 from her account in May 2021, two years after she sold the used bathwater. She later posted that the screenshot showed the company withdrawing money from her account.

She didn’t respond to requests for comment.

A PayPal spokesperson said in a statement to NBC News: “For privacy reasons, we cannot comment on specific accounts.”

The allegation adds to those made by some creators (most notably those who toe the line on sexually suggestive content) who say that major internet platforms often take action against their content with little warning or reason.

PayPal has rules around “sexually oriented goods and services” and says it allows U.S.-based transactions only for physical goods such as videos, DVDs and magazines. Delphine, who is based in the United Kingdom,wrote in a follow-up post that she isn’t sure which term of service she broke and doesn’t know whether it has to do with the bathwater specifically. PayPal didn’t clarify which term of service she broke.

PayPal’s conduct toward adult performers has been scrutinized by civil rights groups, influencers and sex workers for more than a decade. In June 2021, the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement saying it joined 22 other civil rights groups to demand that PayPal and other payment processors stop what the ACLU referred to as their continued practice to “boot sex workers and other users off their platforms with little due process.”

While Delphine was known for sexually suggestive content by the time she sold her bathwater in 2019, she didn’t start appearing in p*rnographic content until 2021. She didn’t clarify when PayPal took the action against her account.

“They wouldn’t tell me which PayPal rule I broke and they wouldn’t give me anymore information because of ‘security risk,’” she wrote. She said that PayPal fined her $2,500 for each sale. She didn’t respond to NBC News asking if the negative $90,000 balance was a result of the fines or in addition to money withheld from her sales.

PayPal doesn’t mention a $2,500 penalty in its current acceptable use policy or user agreement, but it does say users are responsible for fines that may be incurred as a result of misusing the service. In 2022, after PayPal walked back controversial policy language that suggested it would fine people $2,500 for spreading “misinformation,” a spokesperson said that the company has long held that it can take $2,500 for each violation of its policies. PayPal has since phased out this policy.

Delphine also wrote that she “kept this secret” because “it would be a better news story to say that I made ‘sOoOo much money’ from selling my bathwater.”

“Ultimately I’m still glad I did it since it was a really funny time on the internet when it happened, and I still did mail out all the bathwater people bought from me,” she wrote.

Kat Tenbarge

Kat Tenbarge is a tech and culture reporter for NBC News Digital. She can be reached at Kat.Tenbarge@nbcuni.com

One of the internet's most popular creators says PayPal fined her after viral bathwater sale (2024)

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