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Pornhub Promises to Ban Unverified Uploads, Expand Content Moderation Efforts

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Dec 9, 2020

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Image Credit: Istock

Popular pornography aggregator Pornhub has announced changes to its content moderation policy after a viral exposé published by the New York Times questioned why the company continued to host revenge porn, as well as videos depicting rape, child porn, and other non-consensual, violent acts.

Pornhub pledged on Tuesday that from now on, it will only allow verified people to upload content, ban downloads, and expand its moderation efforts to identify and remove content that violates its policies and the law. The company also intends to work with multiple leading non-profits to help flag any content that violates a child’s safety.

For years, there have been petitions, U.S. government appeals for investigation, and statements from retired porn actors calling for the company to be shut down and its executives held accountable for aiding trafficking and violence against women and children. Significant backlash came from Mastercard/Visa, which is currently investigating whether Pornhub is in compliance with its “zero tolerance for illegal activity,” and from hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, who has called for all credit card companies to withdraw their services from Pornhub.

It will also be interesting to see if Pornhub will keep its word, as the company has a lot to lose in doing so. Pornhub is run by Mindgeek, a company that owns around 100 porn streaming websites. An ex-Mindgeek employee told the New York Times they were encouraged by senior executives to let as much content stay up on the website as possible in order to maximize revenue. Pornhub only employs 80 moderators as of now. In comparison, Facebook, which also has a significant child porn problem, has 15,000.


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Despite its pledge and new policies, Pornhub continues to deny that it hosts child pornography. “Due to the nature of our industry, people’s preconceived notions of Pornhub’s values and processes often differ from reality — but it is counterproductive to ignore the facts regarding a subject as serious as CSAM [Child Sex Abuse Material], We have zero tolerance for CSAM. Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating CSAM and has instituted an industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community,” the company said in a statement to CNN.

Nicholas Kristof, the journalist who wrote the exposé fpr the New York Times, said on Twitter, “… A great deal depends on how responsibly Pornhub implements these [policies], and it hasn’t earned my trust at all, but these seem significant.”

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Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is the senior culture writer at The Swaddle.  Write to her using aditi@theswaddle.com, or find her on social media @aditimurti.

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