Did you know that PornHub has over 115 million visits every single day? That is more than both Netflix and Amazon! And, the U.S. is the number one consumer of PornHub content. As if this isn’t disturbing enough, PornHub is just one of the many pornography sites that is owned by MindGeek, a company with a monopoly on pornography.
I didn’t know any of this until recently when I attended an online congressional briefing that was put on by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) called “Uncovering the Evidence of Child Exploitation, Sex Trafficking, and Non-Consensual Content on PornHub.” The things that were shared in this webinar need to be shared with everyone, including that PornHub willingly and knowingly keeps up non-consensual content that contains abuse, exploitation, and sex trafficking.
Many survivors shared their stories on this webinar, including Shandra. Shandra shared her story of being recruited to America for work, something she’d always dreamed of. Shortly after arriving to America, her dream became a living nightmare when she was kidnapped through organized crime and was forced to perform sexual acts. She was abused physically, sexually, mentally, verbally, and emotionally. Throughout all of this, her kidnapper took photos of her without her consent. Shandra and other women (some of whom were minors), were filmed while being abused so that it could be uploaded to pornography sites like PornHub. Despite Shandra escaping her trafficker, months later she found her name, photos, and films that had been illegally uploaded to PornHub. PornHub did nothing to take this sex trafficking content down, making it clear that they didn’t care about the women and actively promoting rape culture.
It is not enough that these individuals escape their traffickers, buyers, and/or kidnappers. Christine Stark, a survivor of human trafficking as a minor, was used in a sex trafficking ring where the traffickers used her and other children in pornography. It was images of children being tortured and being used sexually by other perpetrators. As Christine put it, “When you are used in pornography, you never have any closure because you have no control over those images, and those images live on. It is like being abused all of the time for the rest of your life psychologically knowing that that is going on.”
The last story that I want to share with you is from Serena K. Fleites. She was a 14-year-old girl who was coerced into sending a video to a boy, just a year older than her. He went on to post her video to PornHub. Serena messaged PornHub repeatedly, stating that she was a minor and that she never gave consent for this video to be uploaded. PornHub’s response was to have her jump through hoops to prove her identity before they would even consider taking her video off their site. Eventually, the video of Serena was taken down. But, there is no enforcement or accountability put in place through PornHub to assure that once a video or image is taken down, it permanently stays down. Since the video had been available for a substantial time, many others had downloaded it. Once it came off the site, it was re-uploaded by others time and time again. Perpetrators were able to find her name, address, and other personal information, which they used to threatened her, telling her that if she didn’t make more videos, then they would tell her mom, harm her family, etc. When Serena’s classmates found out about the video, Serena was bullied and she was forced to drop out. She then became homeless, turned to drugs, and every time she tried to turn to someone for help, she was told that it was her fault. Serena is now just 20-years-old and suffers from trauma and mental illnesses from this experience. Because of her story and coming forward, she has now spoken to thousands of other people who have had similar experiences.
Illegal, non-consensual content is all over the site and is being distributed to millions of other individuals with the click of a button. PornHub is a criminal network operating in plain sight. It is complacent for not removing illegal photos and, in doing so, PornHub is fueling the sex industry. 80% of the content that is uploaded to PornHub is from anonymous uploaders, meaning no one is held accountable. This is incredibly dangerous. As I mentioned above, PornHub is one of the many porn sites that is owned by MindGeek, meaning that all of the sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking that has come to light surrounding PornHub is not unique to PornHub. Rather, these are the very themes and types of content and material that the entire pornography industry is built on. I urge you to take action in the following ways so that we can dismantle PornHub.
- Sign this petition to shut down PornHub and hold its executives accountable.
- Take part in the #DismantleMindGeek campaign, targeting corporate partners of Pornhub.
- Listen to survivors. You can start by reading more of Serena’s story here.
- Continue to educate yourself and others. View the entire webinar mentioned in this blog here.
Written by Allison Moser, Vincentian Mission Corps