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Pornhub wants money while victims want justice

On December 4th, 2020, The New York Times opinion columnist, Nicholas Kristof, published an article on Pornhub and the fact that they have been profiting off of assault and abuse since 2007. While I was reading this article, our founder Kelly Galloway, asked me if I was mad. I responded to her by admitting that I didn’t have the room to feel angry yet. I was sad. I’m heartbroken for these young women and children.

Nicholas was arguing for better moderating of the content that is posted on Pornhub. While I could understand why he has made this stance, myself as well as other members at Project Mona’s House, feel that Pornhub shouldn’t even have the privilege to continue running after the torture and harm they have caused so many women and children.

He mentioned that Pornhub is the tenth most visited website in the world, even more than Netflix, Yahoo and Amazon. Too many videos are posted that show women or children being raped and assaulted. More than 100,000 videos are uploaded of those who are under the age of 18.

Pornhub used to be similar to YouTube in that it would allow anyone from the general public to upload videos. As of recently, the site has decided to remove all videos uploaded to its site by members who are not verified users; an estimated 10 million videos. They chose to do this because after they realized they could be in trouble financially. Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and American Express all have stopped allowing purchases from this site. Pornhub threatened to sue The New York Times prior to the publication of this article, and didn’t decide to take down unverified users’ videos until after they realized they would be losing money. This proves that this company does not care about children or these young women, they simply care about making money.

A woman named Cali who was interviewed by Nicholas recalls being trafficked when she was a child. She was nine years old and adopted from China when her trafficking first began. She is 23 now, and the videos of her continue to reappear on Pornhub, haunting her. She is ambitious, she dreams of becoming a lawyer and eventually raising a family, parts of her life she worries won’t be possible with people continuing to watch and re-watch her videos.

As I paused for a moment, reflecting on the terrible actions that were broadcasted to the entire world featuring women and children…I asked myself a question, “how did we get here?”. A quote from Nicholas’ article that really stuck with me is this, “The issue is not pornography but rape.” While I agree with him that the issue here is rape and abuse, I also believe that the pornography industry has been poorly moderated for far too long, which is why they have been getting away with this for as long as they have. There are women who recall being tortured not only in that initial moment of abuse of having their most humiliating moments displayed for millions of eyes to see, but even afterwards...the trauma of constantly being reminded that this happened to them every time that video of them circulated.

Pornhub published a statement saying that they are determined to combat videos showing child sexual abuse and to remove illegal material from their platform, but the reality is, they had the ability to remove these videos for years now. They chose not to because of their concern for their money (and pleasing patrons, some who say they are devastated that their favorite videos have been removed). They held this concern over the safety of these women and children.

Serena K. Fleites is another girl who was mentioned in Nicholas’ article, one who recalls developing feelings for a boy a year older than her when she was in the eighth grade who asked her to take a naked video of herself. He continued to ask for videos, and she continued to send them, finally realizing that other students at her school had seen them. This boy had shared these videos with his classmates and uploaded one of the videos to Pornhub. She told Nicholas that other classmates would threaten to tell her mother if she didn’t send them videos. The boy was suspended and although she switched schools she was met with an army of other classmates who found and circulated the videos. Her mother demanded the videos be taken down, only to find out after they had, they were uploaded again.

She remembers hurting herself and being suicidal, addicted to drugs and homeless. Nicholas reported that she is now 19, no longer addicted to drugs, but is still homeless and living in a car with three dogs. She has dreams to become a vet technician but fears that these videos and pictures of her will follow her for the rest of her life.

Serena posted on her Facebook recently thanking Nicholas for his article and explaining that she was expecting negative comments and backlash for sharing her story. She further explained that most people have been nothing but supportive. “Thank you to everyone who has read the article & has sent me a kind message. Thank you to everyone who has sent me their story too,” she said in her post. Just by scrolling through her Facebook, it’s very easy to see how passionate she is about animals, as nearly all of her recent posts are related to animals, specifically dogs, in some way.

People are becoming more concerned about the activity on Pornhub now more than ever. Nicholas mentioned that there is a petition to shut down the site that as of early December, has over 2 million signatures. The prime minister in Canada, Justin Trudeau, explained that he is a firm believer in women empowerment. If that is the case, what does he feel is so empowering about videos being uploaded of women and children being raped and abused? Why would Canada, where this site is based, allow these videos to be posted and reposted?

The popular app Tik Tok, recently released a statement after this article was published that essentially stated that they will remove any content involving sexual interactions with minors. They defined exploitation and explained that users will not be able to share any content involving it and they defined grooming behavior, an action that often takes place during trafficking cases. Tik Tok explained that they are not allowing any content that contains nudity or sexual activity involving a minor including manipulated images or digitally created images, physical or psychological harm to minors and content from those who have committed crimes against children, such as sexual assault.

Myself as well as the other team members at Project Mona’s House encourage you to read Nicholas’ article and to educate yourself on this topic as much as you can. Dismantling Pornhub and similar sites is something that has recently been advocated for by others, but is also something that we have been advocating for all along. We will continue to spread awareness and give you the facts that you need to know in order to understand the side of these sites that you may have not known about. Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting and educating.

Here are some comments left by several Pornhub users:

Yours in the fight,


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