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Pornhub restricts uploads, downloads after child porn found on platform

Pornhub will only allow uploads from verified users, and content partners, and has disabled the ability the ability to download content from the platform — except for paid downloads by verified users —, the company announced in a blog post. In addition, the platform will also strengthen its content moderation practices.

These changes follow a scathing New York Times report, which documented how Pornhub is replete with child sexual abuse material, and how people whose intimate clips end up on the platform face trauma for years to come. The report pointed out that because users can download videos from Pornhub, that content never really vanishes from the Pornhub, even if the platform takes it down, as someone else could just re-upload it.

The restriction on downloads  is significant in that context. “In tandem with our fingerprinting technology, this will mitigate the ability for content already removed from the platform to be able to return,” Pornhub said. Pornhub is among the most popular porn sites globally, with over 3.5 billion visits a month, per the NYT report.

Before these changes, Pornhub worked similar to YouTube, where any user could upload a video, and if a video is flagged to violate the platform’s content moderation policies, then it gets taken down. However, that is not always enough, as the NYT report vividly documents, which is why restricting uploads to only verified users can be crucial in limiting CSAM. In 2021, the platform will implement a verification process so that any user can upload content upon successful completion of identification protocol.

Pornhub will also identify additional keywords for removal on an ongoing basis. “We will also regularly monitor search terms within the platform for increases in phrasings that attempt to bypass the safeguards in place,” it added. Currently, Pornhub uses artificial intelligence technologies made by YouTube and Microsoft, along with a team of human moderators, for detecting and combating child porn material on the platform, the company said.

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The company will also release the total number of reported CSAM incidents alongside numbers from other major social and content platform in 2021, in a bid to increase transparency around its content moderation practices. As such, it will also release a transparency report in 2021 detailing its content moderation results in 2020. “This will identify not just the full number of reports filed with NCMEC [National Center for Missing & Exploited Children], but also other key details related to the trust and safety of our platform. 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 platform said.

MasterCard, Visa stop processing payments to Pornhub

Despite the changes that Pornhub announced in the aftermath of the NYT report, MasterCard and Visa said that they would cut ties with the platform. “Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site. We instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance,” a MasterCard spokesperson said in a statement to Bloomberg.

“Given the allegations of illegal activity, Visa is suspending Pornhub’s acceptance privileges pending the completion of our ongoing investigation. We are instructing the financial institutions who serve MindGeek [Pornhub’s parent company] to suspend processing of payments through the Visa network,” Visa tweeted.

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