The Real Reason Pornhub Has Banned ‘Deepfakes’



If your face was realistically photoshopped into in an adult film, would you find it an embarrassing and distressing violation?

The past couple of weeks has seen fake AI-generated ‘deepfakes’ increase in prominence, prompting Pornhub to ban them from its platform.

Deepfakes are a more realistic and technically advanced version of the celebrity fakes that have been around since the dial up era. It is the level of realism that has brought the morality of the editing into question.

So this is not Daisy Ridley at the beginning of an adult film…the likeness is uncanny and worrying.


It is non-consensual to put the face of someone who has not consented onto the body of someone else who has not consented to it. But the broad defence of the practice is that it’s not real. It’s fabricated from thousands of photos of each person’s face.

Corey Price, VP at Pornhub:

Regarding deepfakes, users have started to flag content like this and we are taking it down as soon as we encounter the flags. We encourage anyone who encounters this issue to visit our content removal page so they can officially make a request.

Content that is flagged on Pornhub that directly violates our Terms of Service is removed as soon as we are made aware of it; this includes non-consensual content.

To further ensure the safety of all our fans, we officially took a hard stance against revenge porn, which we believe is a form of sexual assault, and introduced a submission form for the easy removal of non-consensual content.


Above is a still from an unsettling deepfake video which superimposed Natalie Portman’s face onto footage of a porn performer stripping for a photographer.

A video like this is particularly disturbing because it gives a fake yet convincing window into a very private aspect of a celebrity’s life we would never get to see.

One deepfakes creator from Reddit explained why there is such a curiosity around celebrities:

Celebrities have an unusual relationship with the audience, people go see their movies and listen to their music even though it’s only one sided a feeling of familiarity is born given them some sort of ‘girl next door’ status, given that they would probably not do porn ever we all have at least once had the question ‘how would Becky look like naked’ popped in our minds at least once, that’s when the technology comes in handy.

A government factsheet defines revenge porn as: ‘the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress.’

It is easy to understand why the creation and publishing of deepfakes is being compared to revenge porn. Though it is not technically real, the violation is alike because of the lack of consent over the use of identity.

The Real Reason Pornhub Has Banned Deepfakes Don Jon and his porn addiction by Credible Hulk Relativity Media

A deepfakes creator told about his ‘cognitive dissonance’ surrounding the morality of making them:

I don’t know how other people are trying to justify it in their heads, but I know I have some major cognitive dissonance going on surrounding the whole thing.

I could never do this to someone I knew in real life. It just feels like a gross violation of boundaries. I feel creepy even thinking about it. I don’t get that reaction from celebrities at all.

I don’t know anything about these people other than which movies I’ve seen them in and that they’re super attractive. It feels completely detached somehow.

A more SFW use of deepfakes…

It was interesting to hear him talk about how the idea of a celebrity ‘being distressed because of a video I threw together in a few hours while half paying attention’ was ‘ridiculous, even though I know there’s at least a small possibility that it could actually happen’.

Because of the detachment from the individuals involved empathy for the human whose identity they’ve used is seemingly absent.

The coding for creating the fake videos was released on the specific subreddit /r/deepfakes which grew by tens of thousands in recent weeks.


They are called ‘deepfakes’ after the Reddit user’s name who’s credited with the original creation of Gal Gadot’s video.

Due to the increased publicity and negativity surrounding deepfakes, Pornhub, Reddit, and Twitter have cracked down and banned them from their platforms.

After speaking to numerous deepfakes creators however, it has been claimed that the reasoning behind the ban is not as virtuous as the corporations claim.

Some of the porn creators were quick to point out that it was likely to be a stunt for PR purposes and to save themselves a legal headache in copyright issues.

Here is a still from the Gal Gadot creation which looks scarily real…

One deepfakes creator who wishes to stay anonymous:

It makes sense that they are doing it as most source porn videos have copyright protection, besides even though fakes had been around for ages media will probably blow it out of proportion (no offense), and it’s a smart move to try to stay out of the backlash … for now.

I’m sure as they realize it is exactly the same as photoshop fakes they will turn a little soft on the matter, provided that they can monetize on it and resolve the copyright issues, which in my opinion is the main reason for the ban.



Another anonymous creator explained:

I think Pornhub banning it right off the bat was a good PR move on their part. The algorithm had been gaining a lot of negative attention in the media, and a lot of the content being produced was being hosted on their platform, and they didn’t want to appear to be implicitly supporting it.

Regardless, I don’t think they really had a choice. If they kept the videos up, they’d be gaining advertiser money off the likenesses of celebrities which I’m sure would have been a legal headache for them.

I spoke to another creator who said he was in it purely for the technological intrigue. The college student, who got to the top of the subreddit with his creation, expressed his difficulty in attracting attention to his AI work when he posted SFW (safe for work) content, pushing him towards fake pornography.

When asked if they would continue making the deepfakes, a creator told me ‘there is a disturbing lack of Chloe Grace Moretz, but when I finish that one I will probably lose interest’.

The same creator went on to tell me that ‘something that is not real can not be private’, and it is not the same as revenge due to the fake porn only making ‘them appear as victims’ so it’s ‘not actually revenge’.

If the technology allows these deepfakes to become increasingly realistic and high quality, the argument that they’re ethically sound because they’re not technically real becomes void.

If they look real and they sound real, the only person who knows they’re not real is the victim, meaning the images bring as much embarrassment and distress as if it were an authentic leak.

Regardless of whether Pornhub and other platforms have banned deepfakes for reasons based on morality, capitalism or legality, it has encouraged the valid debate on when AI face-swapping crosses a line into non-consensual identity use and misuse.

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