The aftermath of Pornhub and its gargantuan video cull

Pornhub made itself one of the most prominent pornographic websites, but a lack of measures preventing illegal content almost destroyed it.

Acting as an open gate for content was originally a strength of Pornhub’s, but it came back to bite them.

By December 2020, their open system hosted over 13.8 million videos. Over 10 million of these videos were culled from the site in order to combat illegal and unverified material. This incident led Pornhub to accept uploads from verified users only.

Image: Shutterstock

However, what started it all was New York Times column piece “The Children of Pornhub”, which exposed the company and its incredibly problematic content.

Pornhub were put on blast for failing to successfully monitor their content and for facilitating child exploitation, and other forms of non-consensual content.

Within days, Pornhub was facing serious backlash from sex workers and industry observers as well as their payment services, Mastercard and Visa. The two companies decided to cut ties with Pornhub based on the mounting evidence.

This prompted the site to remove all videos uploaded by unverified accounts, where of 80% of its content was taken down.

It also withdrew verification from every account not owned by one of its studio content partners, or someone in its Model Program, which allows performers a share of ad revenue as well as more tools for monetisation.

It then put a stop to new account verifications until the start of this year, where a more rigorous protocol was instilled.

But how was this content allowed in the first place?

Court cases have been brought to action against the company, due to them allegedly profiting from videos and doing nothing about it until they were exposed.

While Pornhub had systems in place to try to prevent these instances, they did not stop a 15-year-old girl from appearing on the site after being kidnapped and they did not make up for ignoring claims of non-consensual videos from years prior.

Rose Kalemba said she emailed Pornhub several times for six months, requesting that the videos of her attacks be taken down,

“I sent Pornhub begging emails. I pleaded with them. I wrote, ‘Please, I’m a minor, this was assault, please take it down.'”

However, her cries fell on deaf ears and the videos remained on the site.

Image: BBC

It also doesn’t excuse the damage done to the victims of GirlsDoPorn, who “sex-trafficked hundreds of high school and college-aged women using fraud, coercion, and intimidation”.

The victims from this claim Pornhub’s parent company Mindgeek knew of the allegations towards the owners yet still failed to do anything about it, while promoting and profiting off their content.

The after-effects.

In the wake of all this, only verified accounts are able to post any content.

On top of this ad revenue has dropped significantly according to performers, and the site is still unable to process credit card payments.

At the beginning of the year, Pornhub announced they have started to accept cryptocurrencies. However, its success is flailing, with only minimal consumers using it. Performers are also unable to use it to receive tips or sell clips.

It’s also resulted in a vastly different collection of content than what was previously hosted.

While clips from professionally shot US productions were once common, the recent verification measures have prevented the piracy of many of these videos. This has caused a shift from the widespread dissemination of professional productions to more amateur content. In effect, the latter is becoming more popular, which has also led to a more diverse display of nationalities.

Image: Trendsmap

Australian creator and performer, Charlie Forde spoke on the matter, saying:

“That international content is fun to watch…I’m a sucker for accents, even if I can’t understand what’s being said.”

Central and Eastern European creators have become the most common on Pornhub, due to Hungary and the Czech Republic having the most porn stars of any nation after America. This is partly due to cheap labour and operating costs along with high returns offered by selling porn to international audiences, liberal sexual attitudes and a permissive legal framework.

Moving forward.

The Pornhub debacle has heightened awareness of relaxed posting rules on certain social media sites. Twitter has been referred to as the Pornhub of social media due to the kind of content it accepts and the lack of consequences stemming from this.

With communities and groups becoming more aware of how dangerous and damaging this is for vulnerable people, the necessity for international social media laws and regulations becomes apparent.