Politicians and Corporations Join to Condemn Pornhub, Protect Children

After a thorough and explosive investigative story about depictions of child abuse and nonconsensual sex on the Canadian-based website Pornhub, the response from corporations and legislators in the U.S. has been swift and effective thus far.

Nicholas Kristof’s piece, “The Children of Pornhub,” published in The New York Times on Dec. 4 is frightening and appalling. Via research, interviews, and data, Kristoffmakes the case that Pornhub doesn’t just host pornography online, but criminal activity featuring minors and other unethical content, as well.

Kristof writes:

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.

Upon publication, private corporations responded immediately. CNN reported that major credit cards—Mastercard, Visa, and Discover—cut ties with Pornhub, “blocking customers from using their companies’ credit cards to make purchases.”

Pornhub itself purged thousands of “unverified” accounts from the site—those are the accounts that seem to host most of the inappropriate content. Now, users must become verified to post content, a process that involves uploading a photo and username.

Kristof’s piece detailed the ubiquitous nature of Pornhub’s unverified accounts that allowed criminal activity, even the abuse of children, to be uploaded. He writes:

Pornhub is like YouTube in that it allows members of the public to post their own videos. A great majority of the 6.8 million new videos posted on the site each year probably involve consenting adults, but many depict child abuse and nonconsensual violence. Because it’s impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18, neither Pornhub nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal.

Unlike YouTube, Pornhub allows these videos to be downloaded directly from its website. So even if a rape video is removed at the request of the authorities, it may already be too late: The video lives on as it is shared with others or uploaded again and again.

In a blog entry posted Monday, the website said it had “enacted the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history.”

Pornhub stated, “In today’s world, all social media platforms share the responsibility to combat illegal material. Solutions must be driven by real facts and real experts. We hope we have demonstrated our dedication to leading by example.”

These changes have drastically reduced Pornhub’s content. Before this began, there were 13.5 million videos on the site, there are now less than 3 million. In other words, “two in every three videos” are wiped from the site now.

Politicians also sounded the alarm about Pornhub. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., spearheaded the “Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act,” legislation that would allow victims to sue sites like Pornhub for revenge porn, among other things.

The bipartisan effort would also “criminalize both the knowing distribution of media depicting these types of forced or coerced sexual acts and the knowing distribution of media depicting sexual acts as part of a ‘revenge porn’ effort.”

In March, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., asked the Department of Justice to investigate Pornhub, saying they “made content available worldwide showing women and girls that were victims of trafficking being raped and exploited.”

Together, government regulation of criminal activity and free-market solutions can work in tandem to protect children from exploitation.

Source material can be found at this site.

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