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Pornhub Just Made it Much Easier to Fight Back Against Revenge Porn

The adult entertainment juggernaut puts its foot down when it comes to sexual cyber exploitation.

image via (cc) flickr user mislav-harohnic

Every day it seems as if the internet rolls over to show users yet another one of its unseemly underbellies. Of those, however, perhaps none is quite so repugnant as the phenomenon of “revenge porn.” Essentially the publishing of sexual imagery without the consent of the person depicted therein, the practice has become so pernicious that, in addition to individual states singling it out as a crime, there is work being done to classify it as such on the federal level as well.


While strengthening and expanding the legal protections for victims of revenge porn is clearly a much-needed development, the process by which protections are activated can be arduous, onerous, and hugely uncomfortable for someone already feeling vulnerable from their initial victimization. With that in mind, none other than massively popular adult entertainment website Pornhub has joined the fight to make things easier for those working to remove unsanctioned images and videos from the web.

In the past, when a potential piece of revenge porn popped up on Pornhub’s servers, users needed to email the site an extended explanation of their takedown request in order to start the process of removing the video or image in question. Now, under a new site-wide policy, users will be able to fill out a simple online request form (it’s a porn site, so that link is still very much NSFW) which will prompt Pornhub staff to look into the matter. The form requires that a user provide a name, email address, the url of the video in question, and “digital signature” verification code, reports The Verge. By comparison, other sites reportedly require those submitting a takedown request to include a form of government-issued identification in their appeal, thereby further exposing the person’s identity, even as they work to keep their private life private.

Pornhub’s new, slimmed-down process is intended to help encourage those harmed by revenge porn to step forward without feeling put-upon or embarrassed. In an email to The Verge, Pornhub executive Corey Price explains:

It is vital that we continue to make our community feel safe. We want all Pornhub users to know that this new reporting process is for their security and peace of mind first and foremost

[...]

Being a revenge porn victim is embarrassing enough as it is. We would rather not make the reporting process equally awkward, or make people feel apprehensive about approaching us to begin with

It’s a move that some are heralding as a major step in stemming the tide of this abhorrent trend. While other corporate websites have enacted measures to help victims of revenge porn, Pornhub is the first major adult site to join in the fight. In another email to The Verge, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative VP and University of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks explains:

To my knowledge, [Pornhub] is the first major adult site to take a public stand against nonconsensual pornography or to offer a streamlined process to report it. This move by Pornhub would provide victims with a way to have their private material removed from one of the major pornography platforms, which is a significant help.

Of course, even a simplified method for removing revenge porn from one of the internet’s major adult hubs is still not, in and of itself, a solution to this troubling trend. The proliferation of revenge porn on smaller, less-policed sites means that Pornhub’s new policy is, at best, a limited victory. Still, the fact that one of the world’s most heavily trafficked adult websites would implement these policies is very much a step in the right direction in terms of both direct action and broader awareness of the issue.

Pornhub’s announcement comes at the same time as a new initiative spearheaded by California’s Department of Justice, which has created a central resource hub for those fighting against, and recovering from, cyberexploitation. At a press conference announcing the initiative, California Attorney General Kamala Harris praised Silicon Valley for its efforts in fighting revenge porn, while simultaneously taking issue with the term itself, saying:

[We are] addressing cyberexploitation in a way so that one appreciates the pathology of the crime, and that means addressing the fact that the term ‘revenge porn’ is at best inaccurate, and certainly misleading. They’re not engaged in pornography … their behavior doesn’t deserve revenge.

[via themarysue]

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