Pornhub Announces 'Biometric Technology' to Verify Users

Following bans from payment processors and mass deletion of most of its content, Pornhub announced new details on its improved trust and safety polices.

Feb 3 2021, 3:35pm

In a statement released on Tuesday, Pornhub announced more details on how it plans to address abuse on its platform, including expanding its human moderation team, an upcoming transparency report, and introducing biometric technology to verify users who upload videos.

The new announcement comes after the platform came under scrutiny in December for claims it hosted child sexual abuse materia. Major payment processors including Visa and Mastercard suspended services to Pornhub indefinitely following those allegations, a decision sex workers who use the platform for income said would harm them.

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In December, Pornhub banned all non-verified users from posting to the site, and deleted all content uploaded from unverified sources—which amounted to more than 80 percent of all videos on the platform. It also suspended new verifications, pending revised policies.

Tuesday's statement says that verification will still be limited to people in Pornhub's Model Program, and verification will be done by Yoti, a digital identity verification company, "by providing a current photo and government-approved identification document."

"Yoti will check the validity of the ID document and match the user’s ID document to their photo using secure biometric technology," according to the statement.  

Following its unverified user ban and content purge, Pornhub promised more details about how verification would work in the new year—while fetish and trans creators wondered if identity verification would exclude them from using the platform. Trans performer Dylan Thomas told me at the time that he was concerned about excluding already-marginalized groups with stricter verification processes, and that Pornhub could avoid this by consulting with, and hiring, them to help create the new system. 

In a Twitter response to Thomas on Tuesday, Yoti said that it partnered with UK-based transgender charity Sparkle, and linked to an announcement of the partnership from 2019 that says the organizations are working together to make the process of proving one's identity more inclusive.

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

Other portions of the expanded policies include details about how moderators will work going forward, including that they will "regularly monitor search terms within the platform for increases in phrasings that attempt to bypass the safeguards in place." A Motherboard investigation in 2020 found that Pornhub users could bypass the platform's moderation efforts with slightly modified search terms. 

Moderators will also be trained more rigorously, and offered support and therapy. "Content moderators will also undergo further exhaustive training to identify potentially illegal material and testing," Pornhub said. "If needed, content moderators have access to specialized support, including wellness benefits and therapeutic measures, to support them in their critical work."

Do you work at Pornhub, as a moderator or otherwise? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Samantha Cole securely on the messaging app Signal at +6469261726, or by email: samantha.cole@vice.com

Platforms like Facebook and YouTube have been criticized in the past about their poor labor practices for moderators who have to view violent or sexually explicit content all day. In September, a former contracted content moderator at YouTube brought a class action lawsuit against the company for its lack of support for moderators who view traumatizing content as part of their jobs. 

In its statement, Pornhub also announced that it will release a transparency report "detailing its content moderation results from 2020, including the total number of reports filed with [the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children], as well as other key details related to the trust and safety of the platform."

"Much like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other tech platforms, Pornhub seeks to be fully transparent about the content that should and should not appear on the platform," Pornhub said in the statement. "This report will be the first of its kind among adult content platforms, setting the standard for transparency and accountability in the industry." 

Visa and Mastercard both told Motherboard that suspensions for Pornhub payment processing remain in effect.

Tagged:

Sex, porn, moderation, content moderation

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