Pornhub Bans Downloads, Unverified Uploads After Backlash From New York Times Column

Adult film site Pornhub recently came under fire after a New York Times column alleged that a concerning portion of the videos on the website “depict child abuse and nonconsensual violence.” The op-ed piece subsequently prompted an investigation by financial services provider Mastercard Inc.

Pornhub announced Tuesday that the company would, effective immediately, start banning unverified content from being posted on its website as well as prohibit users from downloading any of its videos.

The company also noted that a new verification process would be implemented in 2021 that would allow users to upload new content “upon successful completion of identification protocol,” and that it would be expanding its operations to have a team dedicated to flagging illegal material.

“The Red Team provides an extra layer of protection on top of the existing protocol, proactively sweeping content already uploaded for potential violations and identifying any breakdowns in the moderation process that could allow a piece of content that violates the Terms of Service,” reads the update. 

Additionally, Pornhub stated that it will continue adjusting its list of banned keywords and will monitor search terms to better flag video content in violation of its policies. 

As part of the new initiative, the company revealed that it will also start releasing a transparency report that will detail its content moderation results and number of reports filed with the nonprofit National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

“Much like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other tech platforms, Pornhub seeks to be fully transparent about the content that should and should not appear on the platform,” the company release reads. “This will make us the only adult content platform to release such a report.”

The company's first such report is expected to be released sometime in the following year.

Pornhub found itself hit with backlash after the Times published an op-ed last week by columnist Nicholas Kristof that stated many of the videos uploaded to the website depicted the sexual assault of minors and nonconsenting individuals. Although the company sternly denied the allegations, it wasn’t long before Mastercard Inc. announced that it would be launching an investigation into the matter.  

This is not the first time that Pornhub has come under fire for its content, as the company has also been accused of dragging its feet when removing videos. Vice previously reported in 2019 that it took the company several months to delete footage from the site GirlsDoPorn, which was accused of tricking women and coercing them into shooting adult films.

To date, over 2 million individuals have signed a petition to shutter Pornhub over its alleged enabling and profiting of videos that aid sex trafficking.

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