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Pornhub among X-rated sites falling under Europe’s strict new law for online content

By Anna Cooban, CNN

London (CNN) — The European Union is wielding its sweeping new rules for big online platforms in order to crack down on pornography sites Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, announced Wednesday that it had added the sites to its list of “very large online platforms” or VLOPs, a classification that subjects them to tougher standards covering age verification, content moderation and transparency under the landmark Digital Services Act.

“Creating a safer online environment for our children is an enforcement priority under the DSA,” European Commissioner Thierry Breton said on X as he unveiled the three additions.

The commission said in a statement that, following an investigation, it had found that all three platforms had at least 45 million average monthly users in the EU — the threshold for becoming a VLOP.

Pornhub said in a statement on its site that, in the six months to the end of July, it had 33 million average monthly users in the EU.

A European Commission told CNN Wednesday that it judged Pornhub to have met its higher threshold through its investigation, which included an analysis of information provided by third-party sources and discussion with Pornhub. One example of such sources is search engines.

Stripchat did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. XVideos could not be reached.

The sites have four months to comply with rules specific to VLOPs, on top of general obligations applicable to nearly all online platforms by February 17.

As a result of their new designation, the three sites will be required to adopt new measures to prevent the spread of sexual content shared without its participants’ permission, and so-called “deepfake” pornography, where participants’ images are digitally altered to make them look like other people.

The European Commission is also demanding that the sites use age verification tools to prevent minors from accessing their content, and inform law enforcement authorities if they suspect an actual or likely criminal offence “involving a threat to the life or safety of a person,” including child sexual abuse.

Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos will need to arrange external audits of their compliance with all the obligations under the new law, enacted in August.

In addition, they will need to publish “transparency reports on content moderation decisions and risk management every six months,” according to the commission’s statement.

Companies found to have flouted the Digital Services Act can be fined up to 6% of their annual global revenue.

In recent weeks, the European Commission has used the new law to ask TikTok, X and Facebook parent Meta for more information on the measures they are taking to protect users from illegal content and disinformation.

On Monday, the body said it had opened a formal investigation into X on everything from its handling of content about the Israel-Hamas war to a new paid verification system unveiled under owner Elon Musk.

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