Culture

What’s Happening With Pornhub?

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Pornhub is in a lot of trouble right now.

The site was absolutely slammed by a New York Times report that said it was “infested” with rape and child abuse videos.

There’s been some huge fallout from the article and Pornhub are doing serious damage control.

But it’s a complex situation where legitimate porn creators are the ones being financially hit and the motivations behind the attack on Pornhub are now being questioned.

So, what’s behind the accusations?

What Are The Accusations Of Pornhub?

Back at the beginning of December, the New York Times published this piece by Nicholas Kristof, who’s an op-ed columnist for the paper.

It was a really dark article which reported that thousands of child sex abuse videos and other exploitative or criminal content was being uploaded to Pornhub, and going unchecked.

It also highlighted the experience of children and teenage girls who had videos of their abuse distributed on the site.

Pornhub usually operates like YouTube in the sense that it allows uploads from anybody with an account.

Moderators are supposed to root out problem videos as they’re uploaded but the article reported that there were only about 80 moderators worldwide, who have to trawl through about 1.36 million hours of new porn every year.

Kristof went really hard at Pornhub and referred to the situation of child exploitation on the site as “Jeffrey Epstein times 1,000”.

Have Have Pornhub Responded?

Pornhub is usually celebrated as pretty politically progressive for a porn brand and the article hit their image hard.

They’ve made some significant changes in the past couple of days to get on top of the issue, like removing all content from unverified accounts, which amounted to more than 10 million videos

Users also can’t make free downloads anymore, to stop videos from being distributed without permission and Pornhub recently created a bigger and more responsive moderation team.

That’s a great response from the site but a lot of financial damage has already been done.

After the New York Times article was published, Mastercard and Visa stopped their cards from being able to be used on the site, and that’s hit sex workers and porn creators really hard.

Backlash From The Sex Worker Community

There’s been a huge backlash from the sex worker community online who say that they’ve been unfairly targeted.

After all, a lot of those unverified videos were created by consenting adult performers and for the accounts that remain, they’ve lost a huge amount of income with the loss of Visa and Mastercard.

Porn creators are now pointing out that the sources cited in the New York Times article were largely groups that want to see porn and the sex work industry entirely scratched from the internet.

The article mentioned that millions of images related to child exploitation are removed from social media platforms every year, but Pornhub has only had 118 reports for child sex abuse images in about three years, so there’s some criticism that the outrage about this feels a little misplaced.

Asa Akira is a porn star and director and she wrote on her Instagram that the activist groups Kristof spoke to were “right wing, anti-porn, anti-feminist” and “anti-sex work” and what has happened on Pornhub is the success of their agenda.

Kristof cited a campaign called TraffickingHub in his article, which is run by a conservative organisation called Exodus Cry who want to see sex work abolished completely.

That makes the situation incredibly tricky because, on the one hand, no child abuse videos should be on the internet. Period. But on the other hand, a lot of people in the sex work community are reading this as a conservative attack cloaked as concern.

One sex worker I spoke to said it’s really difficult to speak out about, because it makes the sex work community look as though they don’t care about the child abuse aspect of this story.

In fact, Kristof’s article didn’t make any mention of the sex workers who create content for Pornhub and rely on that income stream.

The Takeaway

It’s good to see Pornhub making some fundamental changes to the way videos are distributed on their site, to protect victims of child sex abuse – they’ve needed to step up for a long time.

But the New York Times article may have just contributed in a really damaging way to the war on sex work in general, and the fallout from it has also been a big hit to a community of consenting adult workers.