Pornhub bans downloads and stops ‘unverified’ users from uploading content after child abuse report

Pornhub said Tuesday it was halting unverified users from uploading videos after a New York Times report alleged that the pornographic website was ‘infested’ with videos of rape and underage sex. 

The column, written by Nicholas Kristof, asserted that among the 6.8million new videos posted on the site each year, a majority ‘probably involve consenting adults, but many depict child abuse and non-consensual violence.’ 

‘[The] site is infested with rape videos. It 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 continued.

Pornhub, the Times said, also lets users download the videos in question directly from its site, which permits anyone to repost the clips repeatedly and without limit.

Visa and Mastercard said over the weekend that they were investigating their business relationship with the porn giant in light of the allegations.  

Pornhub said Tuesday it was halting unverified users from uploading videos after a New York Times report alleged that the pornographic website was filled with videos of rape and underage sex

Pornhub said Tuesday it was halting unverified users from uploading videos after a New York Times report alleged that the pornographic website was filled with videos of rape and underage sex

Pornhub said Tuesday it was halting unverified users from uploading videos after a New York Times report alleged that the pornographic website was filled with videos of rape and underage sex

In response Tuesday, Pornhub released a statement pledging to take ‘major steps to further protect our community.’

‘Going forward, we will only allow properly identified users to upload content. We have banned downloads,’ the company added.

In future, only content partners and those who earn ad revenue from their videos will be permitted to upload videos to the site. 

Pornhub is owned by parent company MindGeek, a privately held pornography conglomerate based in Montreal

Pornhub is owned by parent company MindGeek, a privately held pornography conglomerate based in Montreal

Pornhub is owned by parent company MindGeek, a privately held pornography conglomerate based in Montreal

‘In the new year, we will implement a verification process so that any user can upload content upon successful completion of identification protocol,’ the statement read.

Once content has been uploaded, Pornhub will block downloading content. Users will no longer be allowed to export videos from the site, other than through paid downloads which are triggered through the company’s verified system. 

Pornhub has also pledged to increase moderation of content currently on the platform through its newly established ‘Red Team,’ which will be tasked with ‘proactively sweeping content already uploaded for potential violations and identifying any breakdowns in the moderation process.’

MindGeek is also the owner of other popular YouTube-like adult portals, including YouPorn and RedTube (stock images)

MindGeek is also the owner of other popular YouTube-like adult portals, including YouPorn and RedTube (stock images)

RedTube stock image

RedTube stock image

MindGeek is also the owner of other popular YouTube-like adult portals, including YouPorn and RedTube (stock images)

The company says it will also be releasing its first transparency report in 2021, outlining the results of moderation from the previous year. 

Pornhub said that ‘every online platform has the moral responsibility’ to join in the fight against depictions of child sexual abuse or non-consensual activity. 

In its statement, the company attributed the seismic policy shift to an independent review it launched in April, geared toward eliminating all illegal content from its platform. 

However, the move was revealed just four days after Kristof’s searing, the Children of Pornhub, article was published by the Times, and just 24 hours after officials at MasterCard and Visa launched a probe into their business links with site.

The credit card giants warned that they would cut ties with Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, if it turns out that the site is not following the law.  

MindGeek, a privately held pornography conglomerate based in Montreal, is also the owner of similar popular YouTube-like adult portals, including YouPorn and RedTube. 

It also owns and operates popular adult film production companies Brazzers, Reality Kings, Sean Cody, and others. 

It is unclear whether the crackdown will apply to the other streaming sites as well.  

Visa and Mastercard said over the weekend that they were investigating their business relationship with the porn giant, in light of the allegations

Visa and Mastercard said over the weekend that they were investigating their business relationship with the porn giant, in light of the allegations

Visa and Mastercard said over the weekend that they were investigating their business relationship with the porn giant, in light of the allegations 

Kristof’s report highlighted a number of young girls who appeared in videos uploaded to Pornhub without their consent. Even after the videos were flagged and removed, downloaded copies continued to circulate, often with severe personal consequences. 

‘The issue is not pornography but rape. Let’s agree that promoting assaults on children or on anyone without consent is unconscionable,’ the report reads 

‘A search [for specific terms] leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are,’ Kristof said of the site, which brings in 3.5 billion visits a month, more than Netflix, Yahoo or Amazon. 

Pornhub, the 10th most visited website in the world, said in a statement that it has ‘no tolerance’ for content that shows sexual abuse of children and denied it knowingly allows such images. 

‘Any assertion that we allow CSAM (child sexual abuse material) is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue,’ it said. 

Billionaire investor Bill Ackman then called on Mastercard and Visa to temporarily withhold payments to Pornhub following the newspaper column.  

‘If the claims are substantiated, we will take immediate action,’ Mastercard said over the weekend. 

Ackman also suggested it should be made illegal for porn sites to post videos before they are reviewed by a monitor, and until the ages and consent of participants have been validated.

In its response, Pornhub said it has a vast team of human moderators who manually review ‘every single upload,’ as well as automated detection technologies.

The company did not say how many people were part of its review team.

Kristof’s column also drew reactions from politicians including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said his government was working with police and security officials to address the issues it raised.

In the United States, Senator Josh Hawley said he will introduce legislation to create a federal right to sue for every person ‘coerced or trafficked or exploited by sites like Pornhub’.

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