Pornhub’s First Transparency Report Is Here. What Does That Mean?

The report comes in the wake of last year's scandal accusing the site of housing child porn and other non-consensual content

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Pornhub released its first-ever transparency report to the public late last week, a move that comes in the ongoing aftermath of a major scandal that broke last year after a December New York Times report accused Pornhub of housing child porn and other exploitative content. The company’s newly released transparency report, which intends to help support Pornhub’s stated commitment to “creating and fostering an adult space to safely, consensually and freely express and explore sex and sexuality, without fear of being exposed to dangerous, illegal, or hateful and discriminatory content” outlines the company’s content moderation practices, including recent updates to those practices that have been implemented in the wake of last year’s scandal, as well as data on “offending content” and reports received from users and external sources.

As Vice noted, much of the information in the report, which covers January 2020 to December 2020, is old news. Most of the info was already made public as Pornhub scrambled to reclaim its image following the NYT accusations, rolling out a slate of new policies as part of an overhaul to the company’s Trust and Safety policy in December.

New info in the report includes Pornhub’s removal of 653,465 pieces of content found to be in potential violation of the site’s Terms of Service and other guidelines, which prohibit any content depicting minors, non-consensual acts, hate speech, animal harm, incest and certain bodily fluids including blood and feces.

“Remember, a kink that LOOKS degrading or humiliating is NOT the same thing as an illegal, abusive, or non-consensual act,” the report states. “What goes on between consenting adults is exactly that: consensual. Non-consent must be distinguished from consent to relinquish control.”

The report also reveals that Pornhub received 1,081 legal requests from governments, law enforcement and private parties in 2020, including reports of non-consensual content and child exploitation. According to the report, Pornhub “cooperate[s] with law enforcement and readily provide[s] all information available to us upon request and receipt of appropriate documentation and authorization.”

The report also outlines Pornhub’s moderation process, detailing the multi-step review process new content undergoes before it becomes available to the public. Users uploading new content must first confirm that they have consent of the people depicted in the content, that they own the content and that the content complies with Pornhub’s terms and guidelines. New uploads are then first screened by automated detection technologies. Content that passes is then reviewed by Pornhub’s human moderators. “Only after the content is reviewed by both our automated detection technologies and our human moderators will content be available to the public on our platform,” the report states.

Ultimately, the transparency report appears to be yet another move on Pornhub’s part to reclaim its image after last year’s accusations, and to make visible its attempts to scrub the platform of offending content and keep the site a safe space for adult entertainment. Unfortunately, the major credit card companies that cut ties with the platform late last year in a move that was widely criticized by sex workers and activists have yet to resume payments through Pornhub, meaning many porn industry professionals are still taking a major financial hit.

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