Pornhub on Hot Seat, After 34 Women Sue the Website


Pornhub has come under fire recently after 34 women said they appeared in videos exposing rape, sexual assault, revenge porn, or photographs of themselves when they were children without their consent.

“This is a case about rape, not pornography,” the plaintiffs said in the statement of claim, describing the website as “likely the largest non-regulatory repository of child pornography in North America and well beyond.”

MindGeek, the tumultuous adult entertainment conglomerate that owns Pornhub, is accused by their lawyers of being a "typical criminal company" with a business plan focused on exploiting non-consensual sexual content.

According to the lawsuit, MindGeek controls over 100 pornographic websites, including Pornhub, RedTube, Tube8, and YouPorn, and receives over 3.5 billion monthly views.

Rachel, one of the plaintiffs, told AFP on Friday that,

“I’m hoping (the lawsuit) will motivate Pornhub, and then also the other companies in this industry, to put in safety measures so that this doesn’t happen to anybody else”.
The 38-year-old Canadian, who spoke on the condition that her real name not be used, recently told AFP about her years-long battle to have a video of her being sexually assaulted by her own husband while she lay unconscious removed from the internet. The video was later posted to Pornhub without her consent.

Despite Pornhub's removal of the video, it had already spread to a slew of other websites.

“Today is a monumental day,” commented Laila Mickelwait of the Traffickinghub campaign to shut down Pornhub and hold its executive accountable, backed by 2.2 million people who signed an online petition.

“This lawsuit makes it clear that Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek are not just a tech company that makes a (content) moderation mistakes,” the sex trafficking expert said in a video message on Twitter.

Since the New York Times published an article in December 2020 accusing Pornhub of distributing illegal content online, including child pornography and rape films — which it has denied — the porn giant has faced a growing backlash.

“Why does Canada host a company that inflicts rape videos on the world?” asked Nicholas Kristof, pointing out that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a feminist.

In February, Canadian politicians grilled MindGeek officials about suspected abuses, and Mastercard and Visa banned payments on Pornhub as a result of the public backlash. The suit also names two payment processing businesses, accusing them of “knowingly” profiting from human trafficking by supplying merchant services to MindGeek.

While the Trudeau administration works on a new law that would force sites to quickly remove illegal content, a Canadian parliamentary committee released 14 recommendations for regulating online platforms on Thursday, including requiring them to verify the age and consent of all persons depicted in porn videos.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is also looking into a request for a criminal probe into Mindgeek made by victims of sexual exploitation, which was backed by more than 70 Canadian legislators.

Pornhub has announced a series of initiatives to combat illegal content in recent months, including allowing only verified users to upload content and utilizing artificial intelligence to detect unauthorized films.

According to US media, MindGeek, based in Montreal, dismissed the suit's charge that it is running a "criminal enterprise" as "utterly absurd, completely reckless and categorically false."