Pornhub Just Released Its First Transparency Report

The site removed 653,465 pieces of content that violated its Terms of Service in 2020, according to the report.
Someone wearing a Pornhub baseball cap. Getty Images
Image via Getty Images

Pornhub released its first-ever transparency report today, outlining several content moderation numbers from last year, and building on its safety policies.

The report outlines Pornhub's content moderation practices, including review processes and  statistics on reported content last year. Much of what's outlined in the transparency report has already been public, as part of Pornhub's Trust and Safety policy overhaul late last year, which included banning all unverified uploads and downloads.


New to the report is that the platform identified and removed 653,465 pieces of potentially-infringing content that violated its Terms of Service and other site guidelines in 2020. Pornhub considers content depicting minors, non-consensual content, hate speech, animal harm, incest, bodily fluids like blood and feces, and violent content to be infringing. 

"Remember, a kink that LOOKS degrading or humiliating is NOT the same thing as an illegal, abusive, or non-consensual act," the report states. "What goes on between consenting adults is exactly that: consensual. Non-consent must be distinguished from consent to relinquish control." 

Pornhub received 1,081 legal requests from governments, law enforcement, and private parties in 2020, according to the report. Those requests include non-consensual content and child exploitation. "We cooperate with law enforcement and readily provide all information available to us upon request and receipt of appropriate documentation and authorization," the company says in the report. 

The report also described automated detection technologies that the platform uses to catch content before it's published, such as YouTube's proprietary child sexual abuse imagery detection technology CSAI Match, Microsoft's PhotoDNA technology which scans photos that might match previously-uploaded infringing content, and Safeguard, Pornhub's own image recognition technology. It also lists MediaWise, content recognition company Vobile’s “fingerprinting” software, which Motherboard tested against non-consensual porn uploads in 2020.  


It also goes into some detail on its human moderation efforts. "Our content moderators review content that gets uploaded to our platform before the content is accessible to the public," to prevent material that violates site guidelines, the report states. "Our team works around the clock in an effort to prevent unacceptable content from being made available to the public for viewing." If a user’s content or platform activity violates Pornhub's Terms of Service and Related Guidelines, according to the report, the content doesn't get published and the user's account may be terminated "where appropriate." However, the report doesn't detail how many moderators Pornhub employs.

In February, the nonprofit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) published its annual report on platform safety, and found that Facebook and other platforms the company owns, including Instagram and Whatsapp, self-reported 20,307,216 instances for child exploitative content in 2020. By comparison, Mindgeek, the parent company of multiple adult content companies including Pornhub, YouPorn, RedTube, Brazzers, and more, reported 13,229 instances of child exploitative content that year; 4,171 of those were unique reports.

The wide gap between the two content networks' reporting statistics is partially a question of scale; the amount of content users generate on Facebook-owned platforms is many times larger than Mindgeek's.

In late December, following a New York Times article alleging that child porn runs rampant on Pornhub, Visa, Mastercard and Discover stopped allowing payments through the site—a decision that many in the adult industry say was unfair and unwarranted, especially as other sites such as Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter also work to control large numbers of child sexual abuse material posted on their platforms every day and don't face payment processor discrimination. 

As of writing, a spokesperson for Discover told Motherboard that its position hasn’t changed. I've reached out to Mastercard and Visa for comment on whether they are still suspending payment privileges, and will update if I hear back.