Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pornhub tightened its rules around violent and underage content this week. Those changes are a good start, experts say, but they won't be sufficient to combat a growing problem of non-consensual videos.

Why it matters: The New York Times story, by Nick Kristof, reported that Pornhub's vast user-generated content library contains plenty of revenge porn and videos with underage participants. It also details the harm that being on Pornhub can cause for people whose videos were posted without their consent.

Driving the news: Pornhub this week announced a series of changes, including stepped-up moderation, temporarily limiting uploads to known content producers, and eliminating the ability to download videos.

Yes, but: "I don’t think it's going to come anywhere close to fixing the whole problem," Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network CEO Scott Berkowitz told Axios.

  • For example, he noted that verifying posters is an important step, but doesn't go far enough to ensure that everyone depicted is a willing, consensual adult.
  • "There’s been a staggering increase in the amount of child sexual abuse material that’s available," Berkowitz said, in addition to the posting of revenge porn and other videos that are posted without the consent of all participants.

PornHub also said it would increase the resources it puts toward moderation.

  • "The key question is, is [Pornhub] going to implement these changes fully?" said Yiota Souras, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "On paper, it's great. But there must be investment and follow-through."

Between the lines: There's a big difference between videos with consensual adults, often professional, enacting all manner of sex scenes and the minefield that is user-generated content. In the latter, Berkowitz says, it is impossible to know if users consented to the act shown, if users consented to broad distribution of the video, and if everyone was of age to consent.

The big picture: Pornhub's changes come at a moment when legislators and activists are looking to solve a wide range of problems online by proposing limits to the tech industry's liability protection. But that approach has had unintended consequences in the past.

  • SESTA/FOSTA, a law passed in 2018, aimed to curtail sex trafficking on line by narrowing the tech industry's liability protection, known as Section 230.
  • But the controversial law resulted in massive policing of sex-related content across online platforms, inadvertently hurting sex workers and eliminating their comparatively safe online spaces, said Kendra Albert, a clinical professor at the Cyberclinic at Harvard Law School.

Pornhub's changes came faster than legislation — just days after the New York Times report — and, while perhaps not going far enough, are more squarely aimed at problem areas.

  • The Times column's effectiveness at prompting quick change shows the power of investigative work and putting sexual assault survivors' voices first, which sways public opinion and clearly illustrates harm, said Souras.
  • But sometimes columns like Kristof's can leave sex workers and other affected groups out of the conversation, Albert said.

Of note: Part of the pressure on PornHub came from its payment processors, companies like MasterCard and Visa.

  • Sex worker advocates are concerned that if those companies withdraw completely from the porn industry, workers will end up in more dangerous situations.

Our thought bubble: Before tinkering with Section 230 again, lawmakers should look at SESTA/FOSTA's record of effectiveness as well as the collateral damage it inflicted. As the Pornhub example shows, public and media pressure might change sites' behavior faster than legislation.

What's next: A bipartisan Senate bill introduced Wednesday would allow victims of rape or sex trafficking to sue porn sites that profit from their images, an approach RAINN has endorsed.

Go deeper

Dec 18, 2020 - Podcasts

Nicholas Kristof on his Pornhub article and its aftermath

Pornhub is one of America's most-visited websites, but a recent investigation by the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof found many videos of minors and nonconsensual sexual violence. The blowback was swift, with Visa, Discover and Mastercard cutting some ties to the site, which has now removed the vast majority of its content.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Kristof about the aftermath of his story and what comes next.

Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19

Photo: Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

State of play: Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a statement that Milley — who is fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot — is experiencing "very minor symptoms" and is "working remotely and isolating himself."

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!