Pornhub changes: how the adult site has changed upload and download rules after accusations of illegal content

Verified users are the only ones currently able to upload new content to the site – but the feature to become verified won’t be rolled out until next year

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 4:07 pm

It's had a boom year thanks to global lockdowns, but one of the most prolific adult websites – averaging over 100 billion video views a year – has been forced to make some major changes to the way uploads to its site work.

Pornhub is changing its rules following a New York Times investigation which alleged the website was “infested" with illegal videos, including child-abuse and rape-related videos.

The site “monetises child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags,” according to the report.

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A New York Times investigation alleged the website was 'infested' with illegal videos, including child-abuse and rape-related videos (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Here’s what you need to know.

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What are the big changes?

One of the biggest changes that Pornhub has made is that it has removed the ability to download videos hosted on its site.

Pornhub has stated that every video uploaded is reviewed by human moderators (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In the past, the download function meant that even if offending material were to be removed, it was likely other users had already downloaded it, and therefore could easily re-upload it to the site themselves – that's nigh-on impossible now.

Pornhub said the change "will mitigate the ability for content already removed from the platform to be able to return", and it has also made uploading of new videos and content available only to verified users.

According to the site, it hosts more than 12.5 porn videos per person on Earth, and Pornhub relies heavily on its community to upload vast amounts of publicly available content.

Currently, there is no way for the average user to become verified on Pornhub, and the option to do so won’t be added to the website until the new year; for now, uploads have been completely disabled to all, except industry professionals.

"Effective immediately, only content partners and people within the Model Programme will be able to upload content to Pornhub," the site said in a statement.

Pornhub has previously stated that every video uploaded is reviewed by human moderators, though it did not declare how many it employed in its latest annual review.

Why are they making changes?

Pornhub’s policy changes come in the wake of a New York Times investigation, which uncovered an alarming amount of illegal content on the site, often involving minors and non-consenting adults.

NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof’s report revealed that searches for under-18s yielded thousands of results on the site.

"Because it's impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18," he wrote, “neither Pornhub nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal.”

Pornhub said the claims were "irresponsible and flagrantly untrue".

Speaking on the site’s now removed ability to download videos, Kristof wrote: “Even if a rape video is removed at the request of the authorities, it may already be too late: The video lives on as it is shared with others or uploaded again and again.”

How are Mastercard and Visa involved?

The report also suggested Visa and Mastercard suspend their payment services to the site.

Such a move would hit Pornhub hard, as though the website is free, there is a subscription available for higher-quality and exclusive videos.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Mastercard was reviewing its business with the site, as was Visa, after both were named in the report by Kristof.

"I don’t see why search engines, banks or credit card companies should bolster a company that monetises sexual assaults on children or unconscious women.

"If PayPal can suspend cooperation with Pornhub, so can American Express, Mastercard and Visa.”

Pornhub said it used tools from Google, YouTube and Microsoft to help it detect and remove illegal material, for which it had "zero tolerance".