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Pornhub removes millions of videos in effort to purge illegal content

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Pornhub removes millions of videos in effort to purge illegal content 1

Pornhub appears to have removed millions of videos from its platform as part of its recent crackdown on illegal content.

The purge marked a massive shift in the porn site’s approach to content moderation amid pressure from advocates and payment processors Mastercard and Visa, which cut ties with Pornhub last week over allegations that the platform is infested with videos of rape and child sex abuse.

In a blog post late Sunday, Pornhub said it has suspended all existing videos that were not uploaded by verified users — including its content partners and members of its Model Program — in line with a new policy it announced last week.

The sweep appeared to affect the vast majority of Pornhub’s content — there were about 2.9 million videos on the platform as of midday Monday, down from roughly 13.5 million on Sunday afternoon, according to a counter displayed in the site’s search bar.

“This means every piece of Pornhub content is from verified uploaders, a requirement that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to institute,” Pornhub said in the post.

The site has slapped a notice on each suspended video saying that it has been “flagged for verification in accordance with our trust and safety policy,” according to Motherboard, which first reported on the purge.

Pornhub declined to say exactly how many videos had been removed, but a spokesman said unverified videos were similarly taken down from other sites owned by parent company MindGeek, such as YouPorn, RedTube and XTube.

Pornhub restricted upload privileges to verified users last week after an exposé by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof detailed the platform’s problem with videos of illegal sexual activity.

The site’s current verification process requires performers to upload a photo of themselves holding a sign with their Pornhub username written on it.

While Pornhub has said it plans to revamp the verification system next year, the anti-porn National Center on Sexual Exploitation contends that abusive videos can still appear on verified accounts.

“Pornhub’s solution to eliminate unverified accounts is truly a distinction without a difference,” the organization said in a statement. “Pornhub must be shut down entirely.”

Pornhub defended itself in its blog post, citing a review from the Internet Watch Foundation that found 118 cases of child sexual abuse material on the site over the past three years, far fewer than the 84 million Facebook found on its own platform in the same period.

“It is clear that Pornhub is being targeted not because of our policies and how we compare to our peers, but because we are an adult content platform,” the blog post read.

Pornhub’s attempts to crack down on illegal content did not stop Visa and Mastercard from ending their relationships with the site in response to Kristof’s reporting, which described clips of assaults on unconscious women and girls.

Sex workers told Motherboard the move could greatly damage their ability to earn a living through Pornhub, which is one of the world’s largest porn platforms. Sex Workers Outreach Project Behind Bars, an advocacy group, called it part of a “war against sex workers” waged by religious groups.

“We find Mastercard and VISA to be posturing for its over zealous base and the bad intentions and actions of the anti-trafficking community who consistently targets sex workers in order to profit from our vulnerable state of being,” the group said in a statement last week. “This action will have no impact on rapists and abusers and it will not stop sex work.”

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