The Lie of "Harmless" Pornography
December 14, 2020
Cali was trafficked and abused beginning at the age of nine. At 23, she is five years out of that life, but videos of her abuse continue resurfacing on pornography sites no matter how many times she asks to have them removed. "Pornhub has become my trafficker," she told Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times. Her story is one of many documented in Kristof's recent investigative column "The Children of Pornhub," documenting how the pornography industry profits off of rape, abuse, and exploitation, wreaking havoc on the lives of innocent victims, many of whom are minors. Kristof's article has drawn public attention to the evil being done by Pornhub, prompting a swift response that will hopefully have lasting effects.
Pornhub, owned by Mindgeek, the largest pornography company in the world, is notorious for its willingness to profit from exploitation and abuse. Laila Mickelwait of Exodus Cry launched a petition in February to shut down Pornhub after publishing an article detailing the ways that the company was complicit in exploiting women and children for profit. In March, lawmakers called on the Justice Department to launch an investigation into the company after a missing teenage girl was found in over 50 videos on the website. Pornhub confirmed that she had been a "verified user" when the videos were uploaded, unintentionally highlighting the way that their lax verification standards had enabled her abuse. Her rapist was prosecuted, but Pornhub faced no consequences.
In response to Kristof's New York Times report, Mastercard cut ties with the company, and Visa suspended their relationship pending investigation. Pornhub attempted to save face by announcing that they were adding verification requirements, ending downloads, and increasing content moderation.