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Pornhub AI chatbot intercepts millions hunting for child abuse videos

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A chatbot on Pornhub has detected and intercepted millions of individuals seeking child abuse videos.

In the last two years, Pornhub’s UK website has deployed a chatbot pop-up to users looking for child abuse content. This warning has been activated 4.4 million times based on keywords associated with abuse. The pop-up blocks the content, alerting users that it is illegal and, in 50% of cases, provides resources for help.

During a two-year trial conducted in collaboration with two UK child protection organizations, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reported that the pop-ups led to a decrease in searches related to child sexual abuse and an increase in individuals seeking assistance.

Joel Scanlan, a senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania who assessed the reThink Chatbot, stated, “The number of searches is alarmingly high. There has been a significant reduction in searches over the trial period. The deterrent messages are effective.”

Throughout the trial, 4,400,960 warnings were triggered by searches on Pornhub’s UK site. Remarkably, 99% of searches did not prompt a warning.

The chatbot engaged users with questions upon triggering the pop-up, offering options to respond through buttons or text. It informed users that the searched content might be illegal and guided them to support services.

Efforts to Combat Child Sexual Abuse Material on Pornhub

Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) is prohibited, and Pornhub diligently removes millions of images and videos annually. The site employs a list of 34,000 banned terms to identify and block CSAM, as stated by a company spokesperson to WIRED.

After a revealing report by the New York Times in 2020 exposed a concerning amount of child exploitation and nonconsensual videos on the platform, Pornhub has taken public steps to address illicit content as part of its user safety initiatives. This includes the implementation of the chatbot, developed by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a charity dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse.

In 2024, the EU enforced stricter regulations, while North Carolina and Montana have banned the site following the enactment of age verification laws earlier this year.

The report notes 1,656 requests for further information via the chatbot and 490 individuals clicking through to the Stop It Now website operated by the charity. Additionally, about 68 people engaged with Lucy Faithfull’s confidential helpline through calls or chats, according to the report.

Featured image: Ideogram

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