Pornhub combats revenge porn.

Pornhub Takes One Small Step to Fight Revenge Porn

Pornhub Takes One Small Step to Fight Revenge Porn

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Oct. 14 2015 5:24 PM

Pornhub Takes One Small Step to Fight Revenge Porn

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Halting the spread of revenge porn just got slightly easier.

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The largest porn destination on the Internet took its first proactive measure against revenge porn today. Pornhub, which counted 18.35 billion visits to its site last year, unveiled an online form that video subjects can use to report material posted without their consent. Accessible from the site’s FAQ page, it's meant to both remove barriers to reporting revenge porn and warn would-be perpetrators that their revenge porn may not last long on the site. (Previously, victims had to send an email to request a video’s removal.)

Christina Cauterucci Christina Cauterucci

Christina Cauterucci is a Slate staff writer.

Soft-launched at the end of summer, the form is for consent-related requests only; copyright-infringement cases are directed to a separate email address and a notice on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. To report a video, a user must enter her email address, name, and digital signature, plus the URL of the material she wants removed, and she must affirm that the video was distributed without her consent.

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Pornhub’s new option is one of several recent moves by digital media companies to make the Internet a more hostile environment for revenge porn. Facing tremendous public backlash over its hosting of nonconsensual, hacked photos of nude celebrities, Reddit banned revenge porn on its site earlier this year. Twitter followed suit, and Google announced that it would remove images of revenge porn from its search results. Pornhub says it’s seen a 38 percent decrease in revenge-porn reports over the past two years. Since 2013, 22 U.S. states and D.C. passed laws criminalizing the distribution of revenge porn. Only three states had laws on the books before then.

Still, many revenge-porn reports come too late to do much good. "The current process has been carefully refined and is highly accurate in terms of being able to determine what is revenge porn," writes Pornhub Vice President Corey Price in an email. "...Videos are generally taken off the site within hours of receiving the request."

But victims often don’t hear about the damaging images and videos until months or even years after it’s been posted. The longer material lasts on a site, the more likely someone else is to download it and post it elsewhere—and, of course, the initial perpetrator still has the original media when a site takes the content down. People have changed their names and quit their jobs to escape the traumatic effects of revenge porn, which, thanks to the flattening of time on the Internet, can haunt victims in perpetuity.

“[Revenge porn] migrates through the Internet. We then have a whack-a-mole problem,” Internet privacy attorney Carrie Goldberg told Newsweek. “While [Pornhub’s] reporting form is certainly something positive, I am still left chasing fruit flies with a butterfly net,” attorney Elisa D’Amico echoed.

Pornhub’s form includes an open field with a prompt: “Reason why you want this content removed.” The explanation is more than Pornhub asks of its members who upload videos—a remarkably simple process that’s similar to YouTube’s. Price says that Pornhub is in the process of adding language to the upload page that tells users they must have the permission of all participants to post the content. A few more barriers on the front end—like a reminder to users that disseminating revenge porn is illegal in 26 states—might do more to deter prospective revenge-porn perps.