Pornhub blocks uploads and downloads in crackdown on child-sexual-abuse videos
December 9, 2020
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A Pornhub logo at the company's booth during an industry conference.
Enlarge / A Pornhub logo at the company’s booth during the 2018 AVN Adult Expo on January 25, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pornhub said it has banned uploads by unidentified users in an attempt to prevent “non-consensual material” and videos of children being sexually abused.

“Going forward, we will only allow properly identified users to upload content,” the pornographic-video-sharing website said in a statement yesterday. For now, “only content partners and people within the Model Program will be able to upload content to Pornhub. In the new year, we will implement a verification process so that any user can upload content upon successful completion of identification protocol.”

Pornhub also said it is removing the ability to download content from the site “with the exception of paid downloads within the verified Model Program. In tandem with our fingerprinting technology, this will mitigate the ability for content already removed from the platform to be able to return.” The Model Program that has existed for at least a few years requires verification by Pornhub staff to prove “that you are real and that you are the one uploading your own videos.”

Before yesterday’s update, the webpage said that Pornhub “encourage[s] all user-generated content that adheres to our Terms of Service,” which ban nonconsensual videos and videos of people under 18. Pornhub is owned by MindGeek, a Canadian company.

Visa, MasterCard investigate after NYT report

As reported earlier this week, Visa and MasterCard are investigating Pornhub over allegations that it allows and profits from content depicting rape and child sexual abuse. The credit-card companies could halt payments on the platform depending on what the investigations find.

The investigations began after a report by New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof that said Pornhub “is infested with rape videos” and “monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.” Kristof’s report also described how a 14-year-old girl’s naked videos were uploaded to Pornhub without her consent after she shared them with a boy.

While Pornhub announced its new policy days after the publication of the Times report and the onset of the Visa and MasterCard investigations, the company said the changes were made following a review that began eight months ago. Pornhub said that in April 2020 it “retained outside experts to independently review our compliance program and make recommendations that focus on eliminating all illegal content.”

Besides the new limits on uploads and downloads, Pornhub said that it recently “deployed an additional layer of moderation” for “proactively sweeping content already uploaded for potential violations and identifying any breakdowns in the moderation process.” That’s in addition to Pornhub’s “extensive team of human moderators dedicated to manually reviewing every single upload, a thorough system for flagging, reviewing, and removing illegal material, robust parental controls, and utilization of a variety of automated detection technologies.”

Pornhub said it will release its first transparency report in 2021 to detail its content-moderation efforts. It will show the full number of reports filed in 2020 with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and provide “other key details related to the trust and safety of our platform.”

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