Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) is calling for a federal investigation into pornographic mega site Pornhub over concerns about the exploitation of women and children.

Over the last year, there has been increasing evidence that Pornhub, a website that allows users and businesses to upload professional and amateur pornography that they’ve created, has become an unregulated domain where abuse can be utilized as entertainment. From minors and women that have been coerced or forced into filming adult features to revenge porn uploaded to humiliate one party, the site has become popular with those that thrive on sexual exploitation for money.

Senator Sasse wants to change that.

In a letter to the Department of Justice, he wrote, “Pornhub’s incredible reach has a much darker side than the image of harmless fun that it tries to project. In several notable incidents over the past year, Pornhub made content available worldwide showing women and girls that were victims of trafficking being raped and exploited. … Indeed, the problem of Pornhub streaming content featuring women and children victims of sex trafficking reached the point in November that PayPal cut off services for Pornhub, refusing to facilitate this abuse any longer.”

One of the incidents that led to this investigative call was the case of a missing 15-year-old Florida girl. Authorities recovered her only after her mother discovered the pornographic videos that her abuser uploaded to Pornhub. Police used the information to track down the man, who was seen in the videos raping her, and he is now facing felony charges. But in many ways the damage was already done. Before her recovery, her abuser had uploaded 58 videos documenting the abuse to the adult website, which will likely never be completely scrubbed from the internet. It will remain a digital reminder of her abuse. 

In another case of sexual exploitation, women were coerced into performing sexual acts on camera for porn they were told would be sold to international markets on DVD video. Instead, the men, who supplied the women with alcohol during their encounter and bullied them into signing releases, uploaded the videos to Pornhub for the entire world to see. The company, called GirlsDoPorn, was the 20th largest channel on the site with 677 million views and used by Pornhub in its subscription service promotional material. One woman claimed that she had to drop out of college and struggled with suicide and depression after her video went public. The men in charge of the company, and one female assistant, have been charged with sex trafficking. 

Pornography, in some form or another, has existed from the beginning of mankind and sin. For example, one of the most well-preserved buildings in Ancient Pompeii is a brothel with images of various sexual positions painted on the ancient walls. But Pornhub reveals an entirely different problem. It is a website that encourages users to upload videos easily with little or no oversight. This allows an environment where abuse can flourish in an industry that is already notorious for its exploitation of women.

Hopefully, the Department of Justice will take Senator Sasse’s request seriously and open an investigation into Pornhub. For some, there is no doubt that the sexual exploitation of minors, women and a small group of men happens routinely on the site under the guise of consensual adult “entertainment.” While softcore pornography may be legal, abusing women and minors certainly is not.


Photo by Gage Skidmore