Following allegations that Pornhub featured user-uploaded instances of child abuse, the site has removed all unverified content from the platform.
Vice News reports that Pornhub removed all videos not uploaded by official content partners or model program members on Sunday, dramatically reducing the number of clips it hosts. The verification process will be implemented in early 2021, with videos expected to be removed pending verification and review. Before this, anyone could start an account on the site and upload their own content.
"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," Pornhub wrote in a statement. "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."
The announcement comes after Visa and Mastercard launched investigations into their business relationships with Pornhub, citing concerns the site could be hosting illegal content. In his piece for the New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof alleged that, "Because it's impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18, neither Pornhub nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal." Kristof added that a 15-year-old girl who went mising in Florida had appeared in "58 sex videos" on the site before the content was removed.
Last week, Pornhub announced a policy change that saw a ban on unverified users uploading or downloading content from the site, and said it would increase its moderation efforts. In addition to illegal videos that have allegedly been posted, Pornhub has long had an issue with revenge porn and stolen content. Any clip that has been suspended now displays a message that it has "been flagged for verification in accordance with our trust and safety policy."
Before the large-scale removal on Sunday, Pornhub hosted upwards of 13.5 million videos. Vice noted that on Monday, the search bar instead shows the site has 4.7 million videos, although it has since indicated 7.2M videos as well. As of right now, it's unclear just how much content was removed.
In a statement provided to Complex last year, Pornhub denied allegations it had allowed child sexual abuse material (CSAM) to be hosted on the platform. "Any assertion that we allow CSAM is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue," a Pornhub rep said. "We have zero tolerance for CSAM. Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating CSAM, and has instituted an industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community."