Pornhub cracks down on illegal content following NY Times exposé

Pornhub has pledged to crack down on illegal content after an exposé raised concerns about the platform being infested with videos of rape and child sex abuse.

The popular porn site announced major policy changes Tuesday aimed at rooting out such clips, including restrictions on who can upload videos and a new squad of content moderators that will seek out potentially illegal material.

“Over the years, we have put in place robust measures to protect our platform from non-consensual content,” Pornhub said in a blog post.

“While leading non-profit and advocacy groups recognize that our efforts have been effective, we know there is more to do.”

While Pornhub linked the shifts to a policy review it undertook in April, the announcement followed a sweeping New York Times report detailing the disturbing proliferation of harmful videos on the site and their devastating effects on survivors of rape and sexual assault.

The exposé by Times columnist Nicholas Kristof prompted Visa and Mastercard to investigate their business relationships with Pornhub, which is owned by the Luxembourg-based porn conglomerate MindGeek.

But the National Center on Sexual Exploitation expressed skepticism that Pornhub could be reformed in light of its checkered past.

“Pornhub cannot be trusted: it has profited for years from rape, child sexual abuse material, sex trafficking, and revenge pornography,” Dawn Hawkins, the organization’s senior vice president and executive director, said in a statement. “Any number of ‘improvements’ will not change that fact.”

In its biggest change, Pornhub will only allow verified users to upload videos to the site. That privilege is currently restricted to Pornhub’s content partners and members of its “Model Program,” which requires performers to verify their identities by uploading a photo of themselves.

Pornhub said it will implement a new verification process sometime next year so anyone can upload videos once they successfully complete an “identification protocol.”

The move was applauded by sex workers, who have urged Pornhub to limit uploads to verified users and strengthen its verification process. Porn performer Ginger Banks launched an online petition calling for those changes earlier this year that has garnered more than 9,000 signatures.

But it’s unclear what Pornhub will do with videos that unverified users have already uploaded to the platform. The company didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment early Wednesday.

The site said it has also banned users from downloading any Pornhub videos besides those they pay to download from models in an effort to prevent clips that have already been removed from returning to the platform.

Additionally, Pornhub said it has established a new “Red Team” of content moderators that proactively sweeps the site for harmful clips along with a “Trusted Flagger Program” through which more than 40 nonprofit groups can alert the site to problematic videos.

Kristof, the author of the Times’ exposé, called the changes “a big deal” and expressed tepid optimism that they would stem the proliferation of perverted videos on the platform.

“A great deal depends on how responsibly Pornhub implements these, and it hasn’t earned my trust at all, but these seem significant,” Kristof said on Twitter.