Pornhub no longer allows all users to upload videos and restricts content downloads

Pornhub, one of the most important adult content portals that is part of MindGeek, is currently in the spotlight after being harshly criticized in a column published in the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof, a well-known American columnist, tells the story of different girls who have been exposed on the platform and accuses Pornhub of hosting content related to minors, rapes and abuse.

Following the publication of the article and the investigation initiated by VISA and Mastercard, which serve as a payment gateway for the platform, Pornhub has announced a series of measures whose objective, they claim, is “to protect the community.” Among these measures are that only verified users will be able to upload videos, not all videos will be able to download, that moderation processes will be expanded and that a transparency report will be published in 2021 with the results of the 2020 content moderation.

What’s going on with Pornhub

Pornhub no longer allows all users to upload videos and restricts content downloads

It all starts with the Nicholas Kristof column. In it, the columnist tells the story of different girls who have seen each other exposed on the platform (one of them when she was fifteen) and whose videos are still online. He also cites another story that tells how a 15-year-old girl from Florida disappeared and was found in 58 videos on Pornhub, as well as other stories related to different kinds of abuse. The text is devastating.

Pornhub reacted and declared that it is “irresponsible and blatantly false” that the platform allows images related to the abuse of minors and that there are moderators monitoring each upload to, if necessary, remove illegal material. Kristof, however, doubts that the system works too well whereas it is possible to find a certain type of content using the right words.

In addition, after the publication of the article, VISA and Mastercard, which serve as a payment gateway for subscriptions and premium content on the platform, claimed to be investigating the matter. VISA said that “we are aware of the allegations, and we are actively engaging with the relevant financial institutions to investigate, as well as engaging directly with the site’s parent company, MindGeek.”

Pornhub is one of the most popular adult websites, averaging over 100 billion visits a year. That’s about 12.5 pornographic videos per person on the planet.

Mastercard, for its part, stated that “we are investigating the New York Times allegations and we are working with MindGeek to understand this situation.” Both companies have threatened take actions in case the accusations are proven, the most obvious being eliminating the payment gateway and not accepting transactions with VISA or Mastercard. PayPal blocked payments at the end of last year and American Express does not allow its cards to be used on adult digital content sites.

Pornhub is no longer YouTube for adults

Pornhub no longer allows all users to upload videos and restricts content downloads

And it is that one of the problems of Pornhub is that allows, or rather, allowed, any user to upload videos to the platform, like YouTube. That includes verified users, professional models, actors, actresses who are part of the Model Program and companies dedicated to the production of the content, but also anyone with a camera / mobile, Internet connection and web account. Not only upload them, but also download them.

If an illegal video is uploaded, it can be removed from the platform, but if it has been previously downloaded, the video will remain available and can be re-uploaded both to Pornhub and to any other website, thus creating a vicious circle. This is what happened to Serena Fleites, one of the girls whose story is told in the New York Times column.

Faced with the accusations to Pornhub, the platform has taken a series of measurements that seek to tackle precisely these two problems. In a publication on its official website entitled “Our commitment to trust and security”, the platform explains that they have always been “committed to the elimination of illegal content, including material without consent and sexual abuse of minors “, although they affirm that more can always be done. In the words of the platform:

“Today we are going to take important steps to further protect our community. From now on, we will only allow properly identified users to upload content. We have banned downloads. We have made some key expansions in our moderation process, and recently launched a Program Trust Flags with dozens of nonprofits. Earlier this year, we also partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and next year we will issue our first transparency report. “

According to Pornhub, “effective immediately, Only content partners and people within the Model Program will be able to upload content to PornhubIn addition, they affirm that “in the next year we will implement a verification process so that any user can upload content after having successfully completed an identification protocol.” It is not specified what the protocol will be, but one option could be to upload a photo holding an identification document in which our face is seen.

Pornhub no longer allows all users to upload videos and restricts content downloads

On the other hand, and also with immediate effect, “we have removed the option to download content from Pornhub, with the exception of paid downloads within the Models Program. “This measure goes hand in hand with fingerprinting technology whose purpose is to prevent content removed from the platform from being uploaded again.

In addition, they have created a “Red Team” that will be dedicated “exclusively to self-audit the platform for potentially illegal material“. This” will proactively scan already uploaded content for potential violations. and identifying any flaws in the moderation process that may allow content that violates the Terms of Service. ”

Through the fingerprinting system, PornHub aims to ensure that videos previously deleted from the platform are not re-uploaded

From Pornhub they explain that they already have different moderation systems, including human personnel and automated technologies like CSAI Match, from YouTube; Content Safety API, from Google; PhotoDNA, from Microsoft; and Vobile, a fingerprinting system. In a VICE investigation, however, they showed that the automated system can be easily circumvented.

Finally, they assure that they are going to publish a transparency report in 2021 with the results of the 2020 moderation. This will identify “not only the total number of reports submitted to NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), but also other key details related to the trust and security of the platform.”

What about the other MindGeek websites?

MindGeek’s Most Popular P**n Sites

According to the Pornhub statement, these new measures are going to be implemented on that platform, but Pornhub, as we said before, belongs to a much larger company called MindGeek. It is an empire of pornographic content, although an empire not very well known. Pornhub, YouPorn, XVideos, RedTube, Brazzers, Reality Kings, Mofos, Babes or Digital Playground These are just some of the websites and production companies controlled by MindGeek.

All of them offer similar content that does not need a description, and the question to ask is how effective the measures adopted on PornHub will be if they are not applied to the rest of the group’s websites. Only in Spain, Pornhub is in the 26th position of the 500 most important websites, according to the Alexa ranking, but behind it are websites like XVideos. It is not a question of applying the measures only to the “flagship website”, but to those of the entire group, and they are not exactly few.