Following an exposé by the New York Times that revealed Pornhub's widespread problem with policing child porn and sexual abuse, the platform has announced a set of major changes to the site in an attempt to better address its serious problems.

As of this week, the site has limited uploads to only content partners and users that are part of their Model Program in addition to a blanket ban on downloads with the exception of paid downloads from those in the aforementioned Model Program.

Pornhub also announced that they would be expanding their moderation, adding in a "Red Team" solely dedicated to flagging illegal and non-consensual uploads, integrating a new slate of detection software into the site, and partnering with various watchdogs and non-profits from around the world for a newly launched "Trusted Flagger Program."

This is an abrupt about-face for the website that built itself as a platform for amateur content and creators, but change is necessary and especially given the site's massive traffic spike under lockdown this year. Pornhub shared that in 2021 they will be working on implementing a new identity verification, so that any user will once again be able to upload content.

In a statement, Pornhub said these changes were spurred on by an internal audit conducted months prior, though their timing with the New York Times exposé does seem conspicuous. The journalist that wrote the piece, Nicholas Kristof, took to Twitter to voice some skepticism after Pornhub made the announcement, saying "a great deal depends on how responsibly Pornhub implements these, and it hasn't earned my trust at all, but these seem significant."

Serena Fleites, one of the subjects featured in Kristof's investigation, is a rare bright spot amid the whole debacle. As a minor, Fleites had pornographic videos of herself uploaded to Pornhub without her consent, which led to a downward spiral of suicide attempts, struggles with addiction and her having to live out of her car by age 19. Since then, Fleites has received almost $50,000 in donations to help turn her life around.

According to an Instagram post by Kristof, Fleites has checked into a long-term motel with her two dogs, and received countless housing and job offers by readers. "She is so glad to be safe and off the street and looking forward to studying again.," Kristof wrote. "She sends her thanks, as do I!"

Photo via Shutterstock

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