Pornhub's ban on unverified uploads does 'not absolve it from any accountability', says expert: 'Victims deserve an apology'

'The changes that Pornhub recently announced are not only long overdue, but they are also too little too late,' Laila Mickelwait said


                            Pornhub's ban on unverified uploads does 'not absolve it from any accountability', says expert: 'Victims deserve an apology'
(Getty Images)

After a growing number of claims against Pornhub after it featured clips depicting child sex abuse, the site announced a number of policy changes on Tuesday, December 8. A major policy change included that the site will immediately ban unverified content from being posted on its website, and even ban users from downloading said content.

The site made it clear that only verified content partners or people with its "Model Program" would be able to upload videos. A statement on the site further read that a verification process was underway, to be launched next year which would make sure "any user can upload content upon successful completion of identification protocol." In addition, the ability for users to download content has also been axed with the exception of paid downloads within its Model Program.

Laila Mickelwait, the founder of #Traffickinghub – which is powered by the anti-trafficking organization Exodus Cry, and is a non-religious, non-partisan effort to hold the largest porn website in the world accountable for enabling and profiting off of the mass sex trafficking, rape and exploitation of women and minors – told MEAWW that the changes introduced by Pornhub "are not only long overdue, they are too little too late" and that  they "do not absolve Pornhub from accountability for its past behavior."  

"The changes that Pornhub recently announced are not only long overdue, but they are also too little too late. By allowing uploads from anonymous unverified users, providing a platform for trading illegal content between private folders, and by distributing criminal rape, abuse, assault, trafficking and image-based abuse videos to millions through its widely used download feature, Pornhub’s design, content features, and business practices have enabled and facilitated untold levels of harm and exploitation for over a decade. Pornhub's damage has already been done, and the new announcements today do not absolve Pornhub from accountability for its past behavior," she told us in a statement. 

She also pointed out the fact that the site needed to cleanse its platform from its past management and operational flaws when it made it possible for its users to reupload content that had been removed. 

A sign at the Pornhub booth is displayed at the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 18, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Getty Images)

"These new incremental improvements fall far short of delivering real justice for thousands of victims, many of whom are facing life-long trauma resulting from Pornhub’s gross negligence and reckless disregard for human safety. These victims deserve an apology and financial restitution from Pornhub. Until third party age and consent verification for all videos uploaded to the site is in place and effectively implemented, the new policies announced on December 8th fail to systemically address what is truly needed to remove and prevent all videos of children and of rape on the site," Mickelwait said. 

She added: "This is why new federal legislation is needed that requires thorough vetting, verification, and record-keeping for all individuals who wish to upload content, as well as requires mandatory third party age and consent verification with record-keeping for the individuals depicted in all videos that are present on the site. Past content already on the site prior to when these changes were announced must also be removed."

Mickelwait also stressed the fact that the "growing movement of voices demanding change" in Pornhub's policies will not be silenced. "The Traffickinghub campaign will keep the pressure on, and we’re increasingly confident that Pornhub’s days are numbered, especially after the major concessions that have been made today," she said. 

The changes were introduced by the X-rated site after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof revealed in a report that Pornhub showed videos of child rape and sex with unconscious women. It also hosted rape scenes, revenge porn, and other explicit materials on its platform. Pornhub denied such claims, saying it was "irresponsible and flagrantly untrue" to suggest that the site carried such images of child sexual abuse material. "Eliminating illegal content and ridding the internet of child sexual abuse material is one of the most crucial issues facing online platforms today, and it requires the unwavering commitment and collective action of all parties," the statement read.

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