Why Pornhub just removed almost 9 million of their videos

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Over the weekend, Pornhub removed about 9 million unverified videos from its site. That’s right: The world’s largest porn distributor just got a little nip/tuck. The company said that it made this move to protect exploited children, but actually, the giant content purge is a bit more complicated than that. Here’s what you need to know about why Pornhub dropped so many videos and who they’re actually protecting.

Last Monday, after an opinion piece in the New York Times accused the company of profiting from the sexual exploitation of children, credit card giants Mastercard and Visa began investigating. To be fair, a lot of porn fans have suspected this for a while and had already begun to shun the brand.

By Thursday, both companies said they’d stop procession Pornhub payments for the duration of the investigation, and by this morning, Pornhub had removed about 9 million videos, Vice reported. Pornhub said in an announcement on their site that the videos were removed pending verification and review.

"We have now suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by content partners or members of the Model Program," Pornhub said in their announcement. That means that any content that wasn’t uploaded by Pornhub’s official content partners or members of its model program are currently unavailable. "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,” Pornhub stated.

This all sounds right on, doesn’t it? Everyone wants to see an end to the sexual exploitation of underaged humans, right? But, let’s be honest, this isn’t really Pornhub protecting children. They could have removed exploitative content from their site at any time. Pornhub chose to remove content once they were financially threatened by their big corporate credit daddies.

And yeah, sure, the policies that Pornhub is instituting to ensure that the content on the site is verified are stricter than other platforms, but they aren’t actually that strict. People can become verified users by submitting a selfie holding a piece of paper with their usernames and pornhub.com handwritten on it, according to Vice. Also, it should be noted that while child pornography is a problem, an independent investigation found 118 instances of child abuse on Pornhub, while Facebook has reportedly found over 84 million on its platform.

To be clear, absolutely none of this content should exist, it’s just that Pornhub just isn’t actually the biggest offender. Still, there’s no reason to buy into their whiny witch hunt claims. “These same forces 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. Today, it happens to be Pornhub,” Pornhub announced. On the one hand, yes, the conservative organizations that lobby for censorship are almost always pretty evil. On the other, Pornhub is a giant for-profit company and it takes a lot of hubris for them to draw a comparison between themselves and libraries.

Also, let’s get real about Pornhub. The platform basically made it impossible for porn actors to make money by posting bootleg versions of their content up for free. Sure, they allowed porn actors to post their own content directly to Pornhub, but actual sex workers made little profit off their own work. Now, many small porn makers have found that their videos have been removed, Rolling Stone reported. “This has major and damaging implications to smaller creators. The small businesses are the ones who will suffer,” Amberly Rothfield, an adult content creator, told Rolling Stone.

Unlike the slumlord smut peddlers they’ve been forced to do business with, most porn workers aren’t trying to play the victim. Porn makers are vocally supporting the changes at Pornhub that will protect children even as they fear for their own livelihoods. “Pornhub is not an evil demon that needs to be quashed,” porn performer Siri Dahl told Rolling Stone. “It’s a platform that has a lot of problems but it does make a difference to porn performers.”