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Pornhub purges millions of 'unverified' videos, admits to 118 incidents of child sex abuse on platform

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Amid greater scrutiny, the largest porn hosting site in the world has purportedly removed videos from "unverified" accounts, a move some say a craven attempt to avoid accountability for crimes they have committed.

Last week, Pornhub announced that unverified users would no longer be able to upload videos and banned users from being able to download some of the content on the site. Those changes came on the heels of credit card companies Visa and Mastercard saying they will "temporarily" ban the use of their cards on Pornhub and intend to "investigate" their relationship with the porn site and its parent company MindGeek, The Christian Post reported. The site has also reportedly removed all content that was not uploaded by either a “content partner” or a verified user.

The changes come after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof highlighted in a piece titled "The Children of Pornhub" how the company has failed to enforce its protocols and has thus contributed to the proliferation of child sexual exploitation. 

According to Yahoo Money, Pornhub claimed Monday that all content on its site is now from verified uploaders, something that "platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to institute.” 

Pornhub accused the other social media platforms of being a bigger contributor to the spread of exploitative content, singling out Facebook. 

“Over the last three years, Facebook self-reported 84 million instances of child sexual abuse material. During that same period, the independent, third-party Internet Watch Foundation reported 118 incidents on Pornhub.”

Facebook has around 3 billion registered users, while Pornhub has around 20 million.

Laila Mickelwait, director of abolition for the group Exodus Cry, who has long drawn attention to how Pornhub promotes trafficking, said in a statement to CP on Tuesday that the porn hosting site's "verification" process was a complete sham and "a form of mass consumer fraud deceiving billions of visitors that the accounts were vetted when no proof of age or consent was required." 

"Only a username and photo was needed," she said, calling Pornhub executives "criminals [who] deserve nothing less than handcuffs and orange jumpsuits then the seizure of their bank accounts to hand over to the real victims." 

The public attention to Pornhub's long list of sordid activities is "a reckoning."

Earlier this year, Mickelwait launched a Change.org petition calling for the site to be shut down in light of its aiding of trafficking. To date, the petition has garnered over 2 million signatures from 192 nations. 

Kristof said that in response to his columns he has been receiving correspondence from victims expressing their relief. 

"I'm getting moving notes from girls who had rape videos or naked videos of themselves on Pornhub, who were humiliated, who attempted suicide — and who can now breathe again," he tweeted Monday. 

"So I can put up with the irritation of frustrated pedophiles around the world," he added. 

In February, as the ExodusCry petition was being launched, the BBC reported the case of Rose Kalemba, who was taken at knifepoint and raped for 12 hours when she was 14 years old. 

Her attackers uploaded the videos of the brutality they inflicted on her onto Pornhub and Kalemba had to threaten legal action to get the videos taken down. 

"The titles of the videos were 'teen crying and getting slapped around,' 'teen getting destroyed,' 'passed out teen.' One had over 400,000 views," Kalemba told the BBC at the time.

Many have cautioned the public that Pornhub's recent actions do not mean that the site no longer profits off victims of rape, abuse or trafficking. 

According to Gail Dines, who provided some of the source material for the New York Times' report, what Pornhub is doing is a public relations push to claim that the company will change. 

In an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham Thursday night, Dines said thousands of "incest porn" videos are still up on the website under various categories, as well as "teen porn."

Dines said that if Pornhub was actually going to remove all abuse videos from its website, "there would be nothing left" because all pornography is "based on violence against women and the dehumanization and degradation of women and children."

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