PornHub is no longer the YouTube of adult entertainment. What was once a free-for-all platform where amateurs and professionals could upload unregulated content is now replaced by a verification system, following last December’s New York Times report and heavy scrutiny over the website’s exploitative practices.

Riddled with illegal content—which dates back to over a decade ago—and no system in place to monitor it, it seems as if PornHub only made the switch to verified content because of financial consequences when Visa and Mastercard suspended payment services on the site. Pornhub’s changes were long overdue, as the site previously hosted and profited from videos of child abuse, sex trafficking, and sexual assault.

The site was so riddled with unverified, unmonitored content, that following the implementation of a verification system, over 80 percent of videos were taken down from the website. Additionally, only paid videos are available for download, a drastic change from last year when all content—verified or not—could be downloaded instantly. By implementing a new identification system, PornHub attempts to create a safer platform that promotes sexual self-expression while retaining privacy and trust.

The Model Program

To upload photos or videos to PornHub, you must be an official content partner or be verified through PornHub’s model program. Yoti, a London-based company, offers a third-party identification system where users scan their official I.D. and face for verification before joining the program. The data is encrypted, and not even PornHub can see the information provided for authentication. This process prevents the spreading of exploitative, nonconsensual content, holds them legally accountable for their actions, and lowers monetization rates of illegal videos.

How hard is it to get verified?

In the spirit of full transparency, I can count the number of times I have visited PornHub on one hand and I have never been on for longer than your classic ‘full-page-scroll-down before clearing the search history and exiting out of the browser’. So, when I sat down to get verified by PornHub, I thought of it as a pretty big deal.

I was hoping the verification process would be long and tedious, given that we are uploading PORN here. To my surprise, the entire process of signing up for a free account, getting verified, and joining the model program took no more than 20 minutes.

First, I created my account with an email, username, and password. (My username is ‘notdown2fuck’ if you ever want to find me.) I then navigated to the top of the page, where I clicked on the “upload” icon, which was immediately replaced by a message saying “user uploads are currently only available to members of our Model Program and Content Partner Program until our new verification system is launched.” I clicked on the model program link, which asked me to first verify my email and date of birth.

After, I was redirected to Yoti, where I had to use my laptop camera to take a photo of my driver’s license before holding my face up to the lens as they scanned me, in all my no-makeup and high ponytail glory. This was, Yoti assured me, to verify my humanness, and double-check that I’m not just a horny robot.

This official verification process took no more than a few minutes and I was soon redirected back to the PornHub website to fill out one more set of questions, including my full legal name, address, and payment method for when I - obviously - get paid millions for my steamy, be it nonexistent, content. Note: there are actually quite a few payment methods to choose from, ranging from direct deposit to cryptocurrency.

Following the final application, an informational page listing requirements for co-performers appeared, stating that anyone who performs in your videos must have their identifications verified and must submit a signed agreement that they are willing to provide upon request. If IDs are not approved, payouts may be delayed and videos removed from the site.

PornHub writes that they "require all members of our Model Program to maintain and certify upon upload that you hold valid government photo IDs, consent and release records for all performers appearing in the content.” This was something I hadn’t previously considered, and it did strengthens my confidence in PornHub’s commitment to the safety and legality of their hosted content.

PornHub has expressed plans to implement an identification system for users to freely upload and distribute content, but for now, the model program seems like a step towards positive change.

The process to join is quick and easy, and a significant step towards combating the dissemination of illegal content. Though much improvement needs to be made in the way we perceive and consume porn to protect sex-trafficking victims, minors, and sexual assault victims, PornHub has taken a small step towards a better-regulated future of porn.  

So, after reading through and submitting all of the information necessary for me to join the model program, I drank a big glass of water, watched a video on what to expect when fostering a cat, and checked my email.

Much to my surprise, only two minutes after receiving the confirmation of my application, I received a congratulatory email from the porn host. “Hello, notdown2fuck,” the email read, “Congratulations!” And just like that, surprisingly quickly, I was PornHub verified.