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Pornhub Removes Millions of Videos, But Many Are Calling for an Entire Shutdown

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In response to intense pressure from anti-trafficking organizations, Pornhub—one of the largest free pornography websites—removed 10 million unverified videos. The porn site attributed this decision to the work of Traffickinghub, Exodus Cry, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

These changes come after a wave of efforts to fight against Pornhub. Exodus Cry and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation have been battling to end Pornhub for years. Most recently, Exodus Cry started a petition initiative called Traffickinghub that aims to shut down Pornhub and hold it responsible for benefiting from sex-trafficking and exploitation of women and minors. “The campaign is supported by a broad spectrum of over 300 child protection, anti-trafficking and women’s rights organizations, as well as experts and trafficking survivors of all backgrounds.”

The message of these organizations reached a broader audience when The New York Times released a report, exposing stories of underage trafficking victims on Pornhub. The report declared that the site “monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.” One victim, who was trafficked by her adoptive family from the age of nine, said, “Pornhub became my trafficker. I’m still getting sold, even though I’m five years out of that life.

According to the report, Pornhub has 3.5 billion visits a month—an average of over 115 million each day—and almost 3 billion ad impressions per day. The article went on to say, “One study this year by a digital marketing company concluded that Pornhub was the technology company with the third greatest-impact on society in the 21st century, after Facebook and Google but ahead of Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.”

Following the Times piece, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover stopped the use of their cards on Pornhub. Pornhub itself made revisions to its site, including banning downloads of videos and only permitting verified users to upload videos, but this is far from enough.

Efforts have also been made on the federal level to hold Pornhub accountable. U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO)—along with other cosponsors, including North Carolina’s Senator Thom Tillis— recently introduced the “Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act.” The bipartisan bill would allow “victims of rape and sex trafficking, as well as individuals whose intimate images are distributed without their consent, to sue pornographic websites that profit off their exploitation.” Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) has emphasized the need for a full Department of Justice investigation of Pornhub “for their involvement in this disturbing pipeline of exploiting children and other victims and survivors of sex trafficking.”

Pornhub’s removal of unverified videos is just one step towards a whole host of changes that need to happen. In a statement reacting to the removal, Dawn Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said, “Pornhub’s solution to eliminate unverified accounts is truly a distinction without a difference. […] Pornhub must be shut down entirely.”


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