(Caution: This article contains disturbing content.)

Nicholas Kristof, writing at The New York Times, described some of the horrific videos available on Pornhub, a pornography video sharing website, where users create their own videos and post them online. Those posting pornography earn money from advertisers as their videos are watched and downloaded.

He wrote, “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 murdered.” Searches for videos featuring children and teens leads to more than 100,000 videos. Kristoff said, “Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.”

He went on to tell heartrending stories of individuals who had videos of themselves, as teenagers, posted on Pornhub. Even when the company takes down these videos, many have already been downloaded from the website – and often reposted on Pornhub or other pornographic websites.

A woman named Cali told Kristoff that “she was adopted in the United States from China and then trafficked by her adoptive family and forced to appear in pornographic videos beginning when she was 9.” Cali is 23 years old and studying to become a lawyer. Kristoff wrote that videos of Cali “being abused ended up on Pornhub and regularly reappear there.”

Kristoff told the story of a woman named Taylor whose boyfriend made a pornographic video of her when she was 14, which eventually was placed on Pornhub. Other students at her school watched the video, and she was so humiliated and traumatized she tried twice to kill herself.

Other incidents reported by Kristoff include a 15-year-old girl who went missing in Florida, whose “mother found her on Pornhub — in 58 sex videos.” In California, a 14-year-old girl’s classmates reported to authorities that videos of her sexual assault were posted on Pornhub. Kristoff also spoke with a young man “who had videos of himself posted on Pornhub when he was 14.”

Pornhub was launched in 2007 in Montreal, Canada, and bought in 2010 by Mindgeek, another Montreal company that owns numerous pornographic video sharing companies, websites and movie studios. The company employs 800 people and has annual revenues of $800 million

Pornhub is Mindgeek’s largest acquisition. According to visualcapitalist.com, Pornhub ranked eighth among the top websites in the world in 2019, with 3.4 billion visits a month. Viewers watched more than 5.8 billion hours of the company’s videos that same year, reported Fight the New Drug, a secular non-profit that educates about the harms of pornography.

Dawn Hawkins is senior vice president and executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). In a press release commenting on the Times story, she said, “How many victims of horrific abuse do we need to come forward before Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice will investigate and shut down Pornhub? Companies like Visa and MasterCard who partner with Pornhub are also profiting from the rape of children.”

Mastercard and Visa are reportedly investigating the claims of Pornhub’s illegal activities and considering what actions to take. Paypal ended its connection with the company in November 2019.

Hawkins is calling for a federal investigation of the company and for passage of the EARN IT Act. The name stands for “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies.” The legislation was sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, and introduced in the Senate in March 2020. A House version was introduced by Representative Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, in October.

NCOSE said the legislation “seeks to allow U.S. citizens to hold technology companies accountable if they aid and abet the distribution and/or consumption of child sexual abuse material.” The organization said tech companies were “balking at the EARN IT Act because they like the blanket legal immunity that U.S. laws currently provide them which enable them to make money with impunity.” 

In addition to legislative efforts, the Christian organization Exodus Cry, which works to end sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, launched a campaign called #Traffickinghub. The organization started a petition which now has more than 2.1 million signatures. #Traffickinghub has over 300 organizations endorsing its campaign.

Hawkins said “The evidence continues to grow that Pornhub … hosts videos of child rape, sex trafficked victims, non-consensual images, and other illegal content. The U.S. government must pursue justice for Pornhub’s countless victims.”

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