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Could this be the end of Pornhub?

The fightback against porn has begun

November 14, 2023 - 1:30pm

The fightback against Big Porn has begun — in America at least. Pornhub’s parent company Aylo, formally known as MindGeek, is currently at the centre of a federal investigation for “knowingly and intentionally” engaging in transactions involving the proceeds of sex trafficking by the operators of GirlsDoPorn.com. GirlsDoPorn was a content partner with Pornhub between 2011 and 2019, with over 670 million views on Pornhub alone. The company was shut down after eight people were charged with sex trafficking crimes, with some imprisoned for more than 20 years.

Over the last few years, numerous investigations, lawsuits and watchdogs have proven that Pornhub is a trafficking and non-consensual content industry hiding in plain sight. In 2019, an investigation by the Sunday Times found that Pornhub hosted indecent images of children as young as three, flagging underage videos that had been on the platform for more than three years and had over 350,000 views. The report found dozens of illegal videos within minutes, including “creepshots” of schoolgirls and clips of men performing sex acts in front of teenagers on buses. In the same year, a mother identified her 15-year-old missing daughter in 60 videos posted to the site by a serial rapist.

In February 2020, the BBC interviewed a 14-year-old girl who found videos of her rape posted to Pornhub. In December 2020, Visa and Mastercard dropped payment services to Pornhub following the New York Times article claiming the site was “infested with rape videos”. In January 2021, a $600million lawsuit was filed against Pornhub for circulating videos of a 12-year-old being raped. The class action discovered that the site had only one person reviewing flagged videos just five days a week, with a backlog of over 700,000 flagged videos and a policy to only review a video once it had over 15 flags.

The litany of lawsuits against Pornhub goes on. And just last week Omegle, a popular video chat website, shut down after 14 years following user claims of abuse. Yet Pornhub regularly monetises and distributes unverified Omegle videos of teenagers from unknown uploaders. 

Some people still contend that calls to shut down Pornhub are no more than pearl-clutching, porn-hating propaganda. But the website’s policies are specifically designed to make it as easy as possible to share non-consensual content. Currently, all it takes to upload a video is an email address: their terms and conditions state that “IDs are not required” in order for videos “to get approved and published”. You don’t even have to give your name and address.

Many countries are now cracking down on the porn industry, along with several US states that have introduced age verification measures. The Netherlands has ordered xHamster to remove all amateur videos unless they can prove the consent of those involved; Pornhub and xHamster have been banned in Germany; there has been a proposed ban in France; and a number of EU bodies have called for more restrictions for porn websites under the Digital Services Act. 

The pressure is working. Last year the CEO and COO of Aylo (formerly Mindgeek) stepped down shortly after an article by the New Yorker revealed the glaring flaws in the company’s content moderation systems. More still has to be done, and there needs to be more criminal liability for individuals who turn a blind eye to the illegal content that thrives on a website where one of the most searched-for terms is “teen”. Nonetheless, there is clear legal momentum building against Pornhub, and it is high time the UK followed suit.

This article incorrectly stated that xHamster is a part of Aylo. xHamster has no connection or affiliation with Aylo and this article has been amended accordingly.


Kristina Murkett is a freelance writer and English teacher.

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AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago

Quite so, but turning a blind eye is not solely restricted to the internet. Rochdale anyone?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

To not even try to monitor offensive material is despicable. I’m a strong supporter of freedom of expression, but they’re not even trying to catch these creeps posting garage videos.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago

I’m shocked, truly shocked, that a media corporation would knowingly profit from criminal activity or place corporate profits above the welfare of their employees, users, or the general public. *sarcasm off*
I’m a big supporter of freedom of speech, and I’ve always had a fear of puritanism going too far, because it so often does, but it’s clear what’s happening here. This corporation is using freedom of expression and the overall controversy of internet and social media censorship by big tech to get away with profiting from criminal behavior. Rape is a crime, and rapists should be punished. Putting a videotaped rape online should also be a crime, and those who do so should also be punished. It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Or perhaps putting a videotaped rape online would enable law enforcement to make an arrest and prosecute.

Daniel P
Daniel P
8 months ago

You can take down pornhub but then the next ten sites will popup overnight.
Just look at the failed laws in places like VA, where you are supposed to have to provide ID to prove your age. Some do. Some do not. Those that get shut down change names and address and just move on.
If your gonna stop this stuff you gotta do it at the IP level and with the search engines like Google and you are gonna need a small army of people to monitor stuff.

Bob Downing
Bob Downing
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Just so, and given the global nature of the internet the practicalities will always be problematic. International collaboration is not only an obvious requirement, but a laughable impossibility. And who would benefit from shutting down Pornhub and other sites? Attempting to do so might give moralists a sense of pride, probably wouldn’t save many of the victims, and would see the money disappear into new offshore hideaways. “Follow the money” ought to be the path, but I often wonder if any country isn’t a safe haven for the bad, surrounded as the system is by political protection as much as greed.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago

The fightback against Big Porn

Does that mean we are OK with small porn? Or perhaps niche or artisan porn?

And presumably a lot of the objections in this article will be mute when it’s all AI generated porn with no real humans involved at all.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

What’s small porn? Is it videos that are shot on a very cold day?

0 0
0 0
8 months ago

The question remains whether broadcasting images of genitals and genital contact should be legal. Censorship in this area rightly attracts derision but the “educational” argument which historically won freedom to trade for porn companies was patently disingenuous and blatantly abused. There is no easy answer but the approach through ascertainable association with abuse and other crimes, with massive fives if not prison – might be best..

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
8 months ago

Oh sure, whack-a-mole at work. If people are being exploited, use the legal tools to counter that. But trying to shut down sites that are offensive is silly.

Barry Dank
Barry Dank
8 months ago

Murkett says there is a clear legal momentum building against Porn Hub, but the consumer momentum remains huge. The consumer momentum re porn will remain whether or not there is a Porn Hub. In other words, consumerism trumps moralism.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago

“Teen” may well be a well searched term. But it covers a wide range, including the age of consent. If we are really honest, there is a fundamental reason why young post sexually mature bodies are attractive. In most cultures this would be prime marrying age; but the West is currently in a state of adolescence extending to about the age of 30.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
8 months ago

F** puritan censorhip.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago

No, this is unequivocally good. Hopefully, more will get done to prevent underage people from being coerced to participate in sex videos.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
8 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Some people still equate this stuff with salacious Roman mosaics. Some of them know better, too.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I think there’s a fear that arguments from worst cases will be used to introduce more general (and genuinely puritanical) censorship. After all the anti porn brigade did not start with pornhub or the internet.

But we do at least need a commitment to ensure that participants are not coerced, not under age etc.

Arthur G
Arthur G
8 months ago

That’s like saying shutting down a guy who fences stolen goods, is an attack on the free market.

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen
8 months ago

“F** puritan censorhip.”
If I am correctly guessing the word you have used asterix to disguise, shouldnt there be three of them? Maybe your eyesight is getting poorer for some reason?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

“Asterisks”….. Not a cartoon character…….

starkbreath
starkbreath
8 months ago

Said the fan of kiddie porn and rape videos.

Chris Whybrow
Chris Whybrow
8 months ago

You yourself have just censored your own comment.