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Pornhub and XVideos will be subject to the same strict EU rules as social media sites

The European Union says three porn sites are now subject to stricter rules under the Digital Services Act (DSA). The bloc has designated Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos as “very large online platforms” (VLOPs) after determining that they each have an average of more than 45 million monthly users in the EU. As such, the three sites are subject to the same stringent rules as the likes of Facebook, Instagram, X and TikTok.

The European Commission (the EU’s executive arm) says VLOPs have until February 17 to comply with the DSA’s general requirements. Those include making it easy for users to flag illegal content, prioritizing reports from “trusted flaggers,” providing a means of appeal for content moderation decisions, publishing an annual transparency report detailing content moderation processes and bolstering their systems to “ensure a high level of privacy, security and safety of minors.”

The three porn sites also have four months to comply with additional obligations. For instance, they’re required to have mitigation measures in place to prevent the spread of illegal content. This, according to the Commission, includes “child sexual abuse material and content affecting fundamental rights, such as the right to human dignity and private life in case of non-consensual sharing of intimate material online or deepfake pornography.” The three sites must also offer researchers publicly available data and be subject to an annual external independent audit. The Commission says these measures will “empower and protect users online, including minors, and duly assess and mitigate any systemic risks stemming from their services.”

The Commission says it will keep a close eye on the three porn sites to make sure they comply with the rules, “especially concerning the measures to protect minors from harmful content and to address the dissemination of illegal content.” Engadget has contacted the sites for comment.

The penalties for failing to comply with the DSA’s requirements are severe. Platform holders can be fined up to six percent of their annual global revenue. The Commission may also issue penalties of up to five percent of average daily worldwide revenue for each delayed day that VLOPs fail to abide by remedies, interim measures or commitments. In extreme cases, the EC can also ask national courts to temporarily block access to a given service.

The Commission, which designated its first 19 Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines under the DSA in April, is already holding some VLOPs to account. Earlier this week, the EU opened formal infringement proceedings into X over potential violations of the DSA. Among other things, investigators are looking into whether the platform is doing enough to mitigate risks to “civic discourse and electoral processes.” They’re also examining the “suspected deceptive design” of features such as paid checkmarks. In October, the EU said it was looking into Meta’s and TikTok’s handling of the conflict between Israel and Hamas under the DSA.

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