Monday, December 14, 2020 was a sad day. Pornhub outwitted every other social media platform and made the decision to nuke all unverified content from its site. And while it is undoubtedly a smart move for an industry riddled with dubious legality, I’m still going to pour one out for all the full-length races that I am no longer able to watch.
If you weren’t aware, Pornhub used to let just about everyone upload anything they wanted. While that meant you got a lot of porn, the site was packed with other excellent content, which included full-length Formula One races, among other things. F1 is notorious for cracking down on any content creator that uses any of its product—logos, clips, whatever—in videos, so it’s hard for people to upload unauthorized full-length races on traditional video platforms like YouTube.
One simple workaround was to upload those full-length races on Pornhub.
It was a simpler time and a blessing to anyone who wanted to watch a race without having to pay for F1 TV. And while the videos were still subject to complaints from Formula One Management (FOM) and could be taken down, that generally didn’t happen unless someone made a big deal about it on Twitter. It’s been a well-kept secret among F1 fans for years.
Now, all of that blessed content is gone.
Pornhub’s announcement about the situation reads as follows:
As part of our policy to ban unverified uploaders, we have now also suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by content partners or members of the Model Program,” according to Pornhub’s announcement. “This means every piece of Pornhub content is from verified uploaders, a requirement that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to institute.
All joking aside, this is a decision for the greater good. A recent New York Times Opinion piece that followed the lives of children whose assault was exploited on Pornhub made the elimination of unauthorized content unavoidable. The site has also faced criticism for hosting revenge porn or videos showing nonconsensual sex; while offenders may be arrested, Pornhub has generally escaped any serious repercussions for hosting that content.
This is how verification will take place, as per Vice:
Verified users, according to the site, are those who have submitted a selfie of themselves holding a piece of paper with their username and pornhub.com (or the Mindgeek site they’re signing up for) handwritten on it. Pornhub told Motherboard that this process will be more thorough in the new year, but didn’t provide specifics about what that will involve. Verification makes users eligible to join the ModelHub program which allows them to monetize their videos.
While it’s not an ideal shift for sex workers that make a living off their videos, the change is designed to prevent illegal content from showing up on the side—and to revitalize Pornhub’s image a little bit. Visa and Mastercard both decided to stop processing payments to Pornhub after the NYT Opinion article, which Pornhub feels is punishment not for its content but for the simple fact that it’s an adult website.
Whatever the case, we now have one fewer place in the world to watch unauthorized, full-length Formula One videos. I plan on pouring one out for our fallen comrades—before proceeding to toast one small step toward a reduction in exploitation.
Updated 3/4/22 with new details.