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Photography Charles, via Unsplash

Pornhub says it’s cracking down on non-consensual content

The adult site is limiting uploads and banning downloads following a New York Times exposé about the prevalence of child and sexual abuse on the site

Pornhub has announced that it will ban video uploads from unverified users, and block people from downloading content after a New York Times exposé detailed the prevalence of non-consensual videos on the site.

From yesterday (December 8), only content partners and those within the adult site’s Model Program will be able to upload content to the site – a significant change for Pornhub, which built itself on non-professional uploads. In a statement, Pornhub revealed that it will review this process in the new year, suggesting that it will instead “implement a verification process so that any user can upload content upon successful completion of identification protocol”.

Downloads will face a blanket ban, with the exception of paid downloads by those within the verified Model Program. Pornhub hopes this will “mitigate the ability for content already removed from the platform to be able to return”.

The adult website will also expand its moderation efforts, launching a new team – dubbed the Red Team – which will be “dedicated solely to self-auditing the platform for potentially illegal material”, providing “an extra layer of protection on top of the existing protocol”.

Although Pornhub says these moderation updates are due to an independent review which was commissioned in April, the announcement comes just days after journalist Nicholas Kristof published an investigation into exploitation and assault on the platform.

The New York Times report highlights a number of cases in which videos of underage girls were uploaded to Pornhub without their consent. Though many of the victims succeeded in having the clips taken down from the site, the majority were quickly reuploaded and distributed. A number of victims revealed that they attempted suicide after the videos were shared.

Kristof also addresses the ubiquity of sexual violence videos on the site, which depict real instances of abuse and often feature trafficking victims. He reveals: “In each case, offenders were arrested for the assaults, but Pornhub escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them.”

Addressing Pornhub’s announcement on Twitter, Kristof said the new measures “seem significant”, but explained that the site “hasn’t earned my trust at all”. He continued: “A great deal will also depend on whether past content, already on the site, is vetted or removed.”

Kristof’s report follows months of protesting by Laila Mickelwait, the founder of the Traffickinghub campaign, which is calling for the closure of Pornhub. In March, Mickelwait – who’s also the founder of Christian organisation Exodus Cry – started a petition demanding that Pornhub’s executives are held accountable for aiding trafficking. At the time of writing, it has over 1.2 million signatures. “Child sexual abuse is rampant on the website because it allows child abusers, traffickers, and rapists to upload content instantly and anonymously,” Mickelwait previously said.

Read Nicholas Kristof’s full New York Times investigation here.

Update (December 15): As well as banning new unverified uploads, Pornhub is currently deleting existing content not created by content partners or those on the Model Program. In a statement, the adult site said: “This means every piece of Pornhub content is from verified uploaders.” The videos will be removed and reviewed, with a verification process beginning in the new year. As of yesterday morning (December 14), VICE reports that the amount of videos on Pornhub had gone from 13.5 million to 4.7 million, showing the extent of the site’s purge.