Pornhub announced today that it’s removing all videos uploaded to the site by unverified users, purging millions of uploads in the process.
Per a report by Motherboard, Pornhub originally hosted close to 13.5 million videos. As of this morning the number dipped to 4.7 million, then rebounded to 7.2 million a couple hours later. Some of the now-exiled content may return pending review at some point in the next year.
“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 wrote in a statement today. It also took the opportunity to fire a few shots at social media companies which it believes are being held to a lower standard, writing, “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.”
This drastic move follows Pornhub’s announcement from last week that banned the downloading of videos directly from the site, and ending unverified users’ ability to upload content.
All of this was precipitated by a New York Times op-ed which recently called out the adult entertainment juggernaut for hosting—and profiting from—material featuring underage and/or nonconsenting individuals. Not long after that piece got published, both Visa and Mastercard announced individual investigations into the site’s content, resulting in both severing ties with Pornhub not long after.
Pornhub, however, is only one of several porn sites owned by conglomerate Mindgeek and it’s not clear at this time if this purge of unverified material has impacted other in-network sites, like YouPorn and RedTube, as well. We’ve reached out to Mindgeek for clarity and will update if we hear back.
Besides going on the offensive against social media, Pornhub also claimed in its statement that it was being singled out for political reasons. “The two groups that have spearheaded the campaign against our company are the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (formerly known as Morality in Media) and Exodus Cry/TraffickingHub. These are organizations dedicated to abolishing pornography, banning material they claim is obscene, and shutting down commercial sex work. 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,” the company wrote.
Incidentally, it’s possible, and ideologically coherent, to object to lax moderation policies that lead to exploitation without objecting to pornography as a whole. For reasons of convenience, that view seems to be lost in Pornhub’s assessment of the situation.