Why did Pornhub delete 80% of its videos?

Pornhub is in the process of removing all videos on its site that weren’t uploaded by official or verified content partners. The number of videos on the porn site went from 13.5 million on 13 December to just 2.9 million on the morning of 14 December—a reduction of approximately 78.5%.

Source: CultMTL

“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. This means every piece of Pornhub content is from verified uploaders, a requirement that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to institute,” wrote Pornhub.

Before the purge

Prior to the change, anyone could create an account on Pornhub and upload any video they wanted to since the platform’s launch in 2007. This led to an infestation of rape videos, non-consensual content, and child pornography being uploaded.

“It monetises child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. A search for “girls under18” (no space) or “14yo” leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are,” wrote Nicholas Kristof for the New York Times.

The New York Times article followed the lives of child sexual abuse victims whose videos were uploaded to the platform. It also called out companies like Mastercard and Visa for bolstering the site that “monetises sexual assaults on children or unconscious women”, as Paypal has already suspended cooperation with Pornhub in 2019.

The article became one of the big reasons why Mastercard and Visa began an investigation into Pornhub. They both stopped processing payments with the site altogether. 

“These actions are exceptionally disappointing… This news is crushing for the hundreds of thousands of models who rely on our platform for their livelihoods,” said Pornhub in response.

How it will impact the sex industry

While it’s a good thing that Pornhub is currently purging unverified and non-consensual content, the news of the biggest credit card companies cutting ties with the website could jeopardise the sex worker industry. Verified users that are now the only ones able to upload or download to Pornhub are also suddenly unable to receive payouts through Mastercard and Visa.

“We say ‘war against sex workers’ because the damage they do does not impact the labor as much as it affects the labourers who depend on the Pornhub platform to earn a living,” wrote Sex Workers Outreach Project Behind Bars in a statement.

A lot of the content on Pornhub is free to view, and the site was a stable revenue stream for many performers. Porn performers have always adapted to finding new ways to continue their work. But when the biggest credit card companies can choose to deny service to Pornhub, some worry that the credit card companies will also deny service to smaller platforms, too.

“I am watching to see if my OnlyFans will be their next target and sincerely hoping not,” said amateur performer Dylan Thomas.

As flawed as Pornhub is, sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have reported millions more instances of non-consensual abusive imagery. Facebook alone reported 84 million instances of child sexual abuse material over the last three years, yet they aren’t targeted the way porn sites are.

“In today’s world, all social media platforms share the responsibility to combat illegal material. Solutions must be driven by real facts and real experts,” wrote Pornhub.

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