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34 Trafficking and Abuse Survivors Sue Pornhub for Reportedly Profiting from Their Exploitation

Out of 34 plaintiffs, 14 say they were victims of underage sex trafficking. The plaintiffs come from various US states, the UK, and Thailand.

“Isabella” was only 17 years old when her boyfriend coerced her to make an explicit video. Without her knowledge or consent, that video was reportedly uploaded to Pornhub. Years later, she found out, but not before 200,000 people had already watched it—including her college classmates.

The worthlessness, shame, and isolation Isabella felt mirrors that of the 33 other trafficking and abuse survivors who filed suit against Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, last week. This marks the seventh class-action lawsuit against the porn giant in the last few months. All in all, nearly 100 survivors of exploitation and abuse have recently filed suit against MindGeek and/or Pornhub.

CBS reports that this latest lawsuit, filed June 17th, also alleges that Pornhub’s business model is built around funneling online traffic to videos like Isabella’s.

The lawsuit alleges that the site knowingly profited from videos depicting rape, child sexual exploitation, trafficking, and other nonconsensual sexual content. Here’s a link to the full lawsuit complaint.

Out of 34 plaintiffs, 14 say they were victims of underage sex trafficking. The plaintiffs come from various US states, as well as the UK and Thailand.

Related: MindGeek, Pornhub’s Parent Company, Sued For Reportedly Hosting Videos Of Child Sex Trafficking

The lawsuit accuses the company of running a “criminal enterprise.” CBS reports that Pornhub markets itself as a mainstream site for adult content and says it yields 130 million users each day—more than Netflix or Amazon. But the women suing the company have accused it of exploiting them for profit, hosting and promoting graphic videos of rape, revenge porn, and even videos that depict child sexual abuse.

Mindgeek “is likely the largest non-regulatory repository of child pornography in North America,” the lawsuit alleges.

Watch CBS News’ report:

One of the plaintiffs says a nude video which her high-school boyfriend had coerced her into making when she was 13 was shared on Pornhub in 2014. She says it took Pornhub four weeks to remove the video after she flagged it to the website, but it continued to be downloaded and re-uploaded, and most recently a version of it was found on Pornhub in June 2020.

Another of the plaintiffs says she was trafficked from age seven up until she went to college, and was at one point trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein. At least seven videos of her were uploaded to Pornhub, according to the lawsuit.

Included in the lawsuit is this disturbing claim (page 16) that exploitation victims have been harassed, doxxed, and threatened after speaking out about their negative experiences with MindGeek and/or Porhub. Here’s what allegedly happened to one survivor:

After one victim retained counsel, she began receiving threatening messages, received intimidating visits at home and work, and had her tires slashed. She said she feared for her life. She then disappeared. After weeks of unsuccessful attempts to reach her, a mysterious text was received by her lawyer from an unidentified person who claimed to be her roommate and reported she had been in a car accident and was in a coma. Although this person promised to provide further information, no further contact was received. No such incident could be confirmed. The victim’s whereabouts and condition are still unknown.”

Related: 13 Times MindGeek Executives Reportedly Didn’t Tell The Full Truth To Canadian Lawmakers

The BBC reports that Pornhub’s statement to them in response to this latest lawsuit said, “Pornhub has zero tolerance for illegal content and investigates any complaint or allegation made about content on our platforms.” Pornhub also said it had “the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history, which include the banning of uploads from unverified users.”

But read this report of ours to see for yourself whether Pornhub even has the capability to review every video, like MindGeek executives have claimed.

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What happens if the lawsuit against MindGeek is successful?

We can’t be certain of what’ll happen to MindGeek and Pornhub if the class action lawsuit is successful, but we can look at how recent and overdue negative publicity affected the company and its prominent porn site as a case study on what might happen.

In December 2020, New York Times award-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof wrote an illuminating exposé on Pornhub discussing its practice of hosting illicit and exploitative content, including the likes of CSAM. Shortly afterward, Visa, Discover, and Mastercard announced they would also be suspending their payment processing services with the porn site.

Related: The New York Times Exposé That Helped Spark The Possible Beginning Of The End Of Pornhub

A few days later, these events led Pornhub to purge about 10 million videos from its site in a matter of one night. More specifically, available videos on the site dropped from 13.5 million to 4.7 million, meaning that Pornhub removed most of the videos on its site due to negative publicity (which would presumably lead to a lessening of profits—a big deal considering the biggest players in the porn industry historically have put profits over people).

Additionally, the survivors would receive restitution from MindGeek due to its reported profiting off of CSAM content, and a precedent would be set for other survivors to come after the company for similar restitution.

The public backlash could also lead other companies currently affiliated with MindGeek and Pornhub to refuse to be affiliated with them until they stop hosting toxic content, just as Visa, Discover, and Mastercard have done.

Kristof has more recently exposed the issue of CSAM and real rape vidoes on the world’s largest porn site, XVideos, in another New York Times exposé.

Related: What’s Going On With Pornhub? A Simplified Timeline Of Events

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Why this matters

MindGeek has reportedly “monetized rape without consequence and openly profited from child sexual abuse material” for years, according to the lawyer representing survivors in a different lawsuit.

Related: 50 “GirlsDoPorn” Sex Trafficking Survivors Sue Pornhub’s Parent Company For Profiting From Their Exploitation

We believe it’s important for porn consumers and individuals everywhere to be aware of the fact that the porn industry, which masquerades as a for-the-people provider of cheap and harmless entertainment, is anything but that. Even pornographic content that isn’t necessarily of trafficked or abused individuals has been shown by decades of research from respected institutions to negatively impact individuals, relationships, and society.

MindGeek needs to be held accountable for reportedly hosting and profiting off of illicit content like CSAM, and this lawsuit is only one of many. No matter what happens next, this is an opportunity for people everywhere to learn about the harmful effects of porn and the business practices of this harmful industry.

To see a simplified timeline of events relating to Pornhub, click here.