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Pornhub Will Ban Uploads From Unverified Users

The site announced a slate of "trust and safety" measures after facing an onslaught of criticism over hosting abusive and illegal content.

Last updated on December 9, 2020, at 1:50 p.m. ET

Posted on December 8, 2020, at 8:45 p.m. ET

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

A Pornhub logo at the 2018 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo.

Pornhub will prohibit uploads from unverified users, effective immediately, the company announced Tuesday.

The new policy is part of a slate of “trust and safety” measures that come after the site faced an onslaught of criticism in recent days over allegations of hosting abusive and illegal content.

“Our core values such as inclusivity, freedom of expression and privacy are only possible when our platform is trusted by our users," the company said in a statement announcing the changes. "Every online platform has the moral responsibility to join this fight, and it requires collective action and constant vigilance.”

The site will limit uploads to content partners and people in the Model Program, effective immediately. The company said it will create a new verification process next year to allow any user who goes through an identification process to upload content.

Pornhub will also ban downloads from the site, with the exception of paid content from the verified Model Program. It will also expand moderation with a new team dedicated to auditing the site. It will release a report on moderation results next year, including details about child sexual abuse materials found on the platform.

The changes come after a scathing op-ed in the New York Times that detailed allegations of child abuse and sexual assault videos on the site.

MindGeek, Pornhub’s parent company, is based in Canada. The op-ed prompted concern from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with investigations from Visa and Mastercard.

Pornhub and other streaming sites have faced criticism for years from both the public and members of the porn industry over policies that allow anyone to upload content with little oversight.

The renewed scrutiny comes amid a public debate over how and when tech platforms like Facebook should be held accountable for user-generated content on their sites.

At the same time, the criticism has been fueled by a growing moral panic over sex trafficking. A petition to shut down the site led by Laila Mickelwait, an anti–sex work activist, received nearly 2 million signatures this summer.

Major questions remain over the implementation and efficacy of Pornhub’s measures. The current requirements to become a verified user are minimal, and reporting from Vice last year showed that “fingerprinting” software that the company uses to prevent content from being reposted once it has been removed can be easily circumvented.

A Pornhub representative declined to answer questions about the changes, saying the company would not discuss details until the new verification process is rolled out next year.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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