Pornhub Purged Almost 80% Of Its Content — More Than 10 Million Videos — From Its Site

The takedowns are the latest in a series of sweeping changes that have shocked the adult industry.

More than 10 million videos were purged from Pornhub on Monday after the company announced it was removing all unverified content from its website.

“As part of our policy to ban unverified uploaders, we have now also suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by content partners or members of the Model Program,” the company said in a statement Monday.

The vast majority of the content on the website, which is one of the most trafficked each day online, appears to have been taken down. There were 13.5 million videos searchable on the site as of Sunday night, according to Vice, which first reported the news. That figure was down to just 2.9 million by Monday afternoon. Vice reported that the number had been in flux, but a Pornhub representative told BuzzFeed News that the removal process was now complete, and the changes will apply to all sites owned by parent company MindGeek.

Affected videos now show a disclaimer saying that the content "has been flagged for verification in accordance with our trust and safety policy." Some of the content may be restored once the company rolls out a new process to verify users next year, a company representative told BuzzFeed News.

The removal is the latest in a series of sweeping changes to the site that have come after an outcry over child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and other nonconsensual content allegedly hosted on the site, highlighted in a Dec. 4 piece by opinion writer Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. That piece led to investigations at Visa and Mastercard, which later announced they would end payment processing for the site over concerns about illegal content.

Pornhub acknowledged 118 incidents of CSAM on the site, identified by the Internet Watch Foundation, but also argued that the site had been unfairly targeted by anti-pornography groups for an issue that is widespread across mainstream sites like Facebook as well.

“It is clear that Pornhub is being targeted not because of our policies and how we compare to our peers, but because we’re an adult content platform," the company said in its statement Monday.

"These are the same forces that have spent 50 years demonizing Playboy, the National Endowment for the Arts, sex education, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and even the American Library Association.”

One of the groups Pornhub blamed and which was cited in the New York Times story, the TraffickingHub campaign, went viral this summer in the midst of a moral panic over sex trafficking and a focus on the issue from the mass delusion QAnon. The campaign is led by anti–sex work activist Laila Mickelwait from the right-wing Christian group Exodus Cry.

Pornhub launched in 2007, and is the best-known property of parent company MindGeek, which is a dominant force in the adult industry and owns numerous other sites and brands like Redtube, YouPorn, Brazzers, and Reality Kings.

Prior to the recent announcements, anyone could upload content to the site, and porn pirated from other sites was often uploaded by users, along with everything from gaming content and feature films to a bootleg recording of the Broadway musical Hamilton.

It’s unclear whether the new policies will be sufficient to fully address abuse on the platform. The company has so far declined to discuss details about the new verification process, and even that may not be a guarantee. The company Girls Do Porn, which was sued for fraud by 22 women and later charged with sex trafficking, was allowed to continue operating as a content partner even in the midst of lawsuits.

While the announcements from Pornhub have been greeted with cautious optimism by some performers, many of whom have long struggled to get their pirated content taken down, others say the decisions from Visa and Mastercard have cut their income in half and they worry about what's next.

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