PornHub deploys ‘groundbreaking’ bot to fight child abuse

PornHub, the site operated by Adult entertainment behemoth MindGeek, has announced a partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to combat child abuse on its platform in the UK.

The site will deploy a ‘groundbreaking’ chatbot which is designed to intercept illegal activity. Should a user search for one of 28,000 words – including euphemistic code words – a pop-up will show them that they are searching for potentially abusive and illegal imagery. Users will then be directed to child abuse charity Stop It Now! to support them in an effort to prevent them seeking out such material. 

The IWF said that the project, funded by Safe Online – End Violence Against Children, has been developed over a two-year period in conjunction with child protection charity, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. 

In comments to The Guardian, IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves said: “In 2021, we removed a quarter of a million webpages containing child sexual abuse material from the internet – an increase of 64% on 2020. In the first month of the UK lockdown there were eight million attempts to access just three of the websites on our block list. These are really scary numbers.

“Prevention is key and it is to MindGeek’s credit that they stepped up to help. We needed a site with a lot of traffic, which MindGeek have provided, and I should stress that this year we have removed 169,000 pages so far with illegal content from the internet, and only one of them was on Pornhub.”

PornHub is visited by more than 15 million users per month in the UK, giving it a significantly larger audience than many mainstream TV channels. 

This is the site’s latest effort to clampdown on abusive material, following a 2020 ban on unverified video uploads – a move which effectively removed approximately two-thirds of videos hosted on the stie. This was not entirely altruistic however, and came after an in-depth NYT expose which resulted in Mastercard and Visa removing themselves as payment partners of MindGeek. 

A spokesperson for Pornhub said: “Pornhub has zero tolerance for child sexual abuse material, and we are honoured to partner with leading organisations like IWF and Stop It Now! to deploy this groundbreaking technology that will help deter bad actors before they commit a crime. While Pornhub utilises deterrence messaging worldwide, the chatbot serves as an additional layer of social intervention being piloted in the UK.”

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