Home Society ‘Giants that don’t give a damn’: X, Pornhub slammed for failure to fight online porn
‘Giants that don’t give a damn’: X, Pornhub slammed for failure to fight online porn

‘Giants that don’t give a damn’: X, Pornhub slammed for failure to fight online porn

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‘Giants that don’t give a damn’: X, Pornhub slammed for failure to fight online porn

Large internet firms are failing to protect children from seeing porn online and European authorities are standing idly by, one of the bloc’s audiovisual regulators has said.

“We’re up against giants that still don’t give a damn. That is the reality,” said Karim Ibourki, who leads Belgium’s French-speaking audiovisual council, criticizing large adult content websites but also social media platform X owned by Elon Musk.

Ibourki, who is a former chair of the pan-European network of audiovisual enforcers, lamented that national audiovisual and content watchdogs and the European Commission aren’t holding companies accountable for not thoroughly checking the age of people coming on their websites.

“We’ve passed laws, we’ve discussed them, we’ve negotiated them, and what’s happening today? Nothing is happening at both national and European level,” he said.

His authority — the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel in full — on Monday released a report saying X (formerly known as Twitter) was flooded with porn photos and videos freely accessible to teenagers.

After monitoring the platform with an AI tool in the fall from September to December, the Belgian authority listed 908 porn posts, including some depicting violence. The regulator said the posts in French were only the tip of the iceberg. Dozens of accounts for pornstars that were manually identified had been active for over five years and were followed by hundreds of thousands of followers.

X did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Aylo, the parent company of Pornhub, said it supported verifying people’s ages — but while maintaining users’ privacy and safety, with a spokesperson saying that “unfortunately, the way many jurisdictions worldwide have chosen to implement age verification is ineffective, haphazard, and dangerous.”

The incidents breach two European laws setting rules to protect minors online, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), the authority said.

Under the audiovisual directive video sharing platforms have to take measures including an age verification mechanism to stop minors from seeing content that could “seriously impair” their development.

The DSA also obliges online platforms to implement “appropriate and proportionate measures” to ensure a high level of safety. X has had to respect these requirements since August 2023 and all online platforms including porn websites will have to follow the rule starting Feb. 17.

The criticism comes as authorities across Western democratic countries struggle to enforce rules to stop minors from facing harm online.

In 2022, Germany’s Commission for Youth Media Protection ordered local internet service providers to block the popular adult website Xhamster because it wasn’t sufficiently limiting access for minors to its website. It is currently examining a similar order for Pornhub. Officials in France, Spain and elsewhere are also considering new measures.

The United Kingdom’s Online Safety Act also introduces mandatory age checks for porn websites and comes into force at the beginning of 2025. And the European Commission started in January a task force to find a common solution.

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