Pornhub Announces ‘Major Changes’ To Protect Sex Trafficking Victims After New York Times Report

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Pornhub, the world’s most popular pornography website, recently announced that it was making “major changes” to its platform. The announcement came after author Nicolas Kristoff penned a piece for The New York Times detailing how videos showing the abuse of sex trafficking victims — many of which were children — are being distributed on the site. 

On its website, the company posted a statement affirming its commitment to protecting its platform from “non-consensual content” and outlined its plans to combat the spread of videos featuring sex trafficking victims. 

They wrote:

“Today, we are taking major steps to further protect our community. Going forward, we will only allow properly identified users to upload content. We have banned downloads. We have made some key expansions to our moderation process, and we recently launched a Trusted Flagger Program with dozens of non-profit organizations. Earlier this year, we also partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and next year we will issue our first transparency report.”

The statement goes on to give more detail into each measure the company will take to ensure that its platform is not being used to disseminate illicit material. 

Kristoff’s article explained how bad actors are using Pornhub to spread non-consensual pornography, much of which involved minors. He wrote:

“Yet there’s another side of the company: Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. A search for “girls under18” (no space) or ‘14yo’ leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.”

The author explained how children are being abused through the website. He wrote: 

“After a 15-year-old girl went missing in Florida, her mother found her on Pornhub — in 58 sex videos. Sexual assaults on a 14-year-old California girl were posted on Pornhub and were reported to the authorities not by the company but by a classmate who saw the videos. In each case, offenders were arrested for the assaults, but Pornhub escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them.”

One woman told Kristoff that “Pornhub became my trafficker.” She was adopted from China by an American couple and then trafficked. They forced her to participate in pornographic videos when she was nine-years-old. Some of these videos wound up on Pornhub. “I’m still getting sold, even though I’m five years out of that life,” she said. “I may never be able to get away from this,” she said. “I may be 40 with eight kids, and people are still masturbating to my photos.”

After Kristoff’s report was published, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced that he would seek legislation giving victims of sex trafficking legal recourse if their videos were circulated through online platforms. We can’t know whether or not Pornhub is sincere in its attempts to crack down on illicit content being shared on its platform. 

But if victims of these crimes were able to sue these companies for failing to prevent child pornography from being shared on their sites, it might motivate them to do a better job of protecting sex trafficking victims. 

 

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