Much consumed but only rarely discussed, porn movies account for some of the most watched visual content on the internet (especially during quarantine), but most users rarely stop to ask who is uploading the videos or where they come from. Pornhub took a big step to making that often shady process a lot more transparent this week when it removed all videos from its platform not uploaded by official content partners or verified models. Moving forward, the company will also begin introducing more rigorous verification methods in an effort to prevent revenge porn and/ or illicit content featuring minors.

Pornhub hasn’t released the official breakdown yet, but according to Vice, the number of searchable videos in the adult entertainment site went from 13.5 million to 4.7 million. It’s an absolute drastic reduction, and it affects a lot of the service’s most popular amateur videos. It may seem like a drastic move to some fans of the site, but it was a change needed for a long time and it came as the site finds itself under intense scrutiny. First, The New York Times published an expose on victims of child abuse that had their rape videos uploaded to the site. Afterwards, both Mastercard and Visa announced they would stop processing payments to the site.

Exactly what happens next to one of the most important names in porn is an open question. Many within the industry are reportedly hopeful that this will help victims of abuse and put an end to the rampant stealing and reuploading of content, but it’s still unclear what measures Pornhub will put in place long-term to verify content creators and rights issues. Right now, the verification process involves models submitting photos of themselves with their account information and date handwritten. The company says that process will change and expand in the new year, but it’s unclear what it will look like.

One of the best ways to get rid of the stigma around something is to bring the entire process forward into the light. The more transparency there is around a business, the less shady people think it is (and the less likely governments are to ban it). Most people have gotten increasingly more comfortable around the conversation of porn over the past few decades. There are even starting to be more mainstream collaborations, but there is still a lack of understanding around how it works and a lack of honesty around the true pros and cons. Hopefully these changes will be a big step toward accountability.

All suspended videos on Pornhub currently deliver a notice saying they’ve been flagged as part of the “trust and safety policy.” I suspect some creators will try to get verified and get the content reinstated, but much of it will probably just disappear forever. If that is what it takes to weed out the bad actors and figure out a way for creators to get paid in a fair and transparent fashion, I think it’s a great tradeoff.

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