Is MindGeek’s PornHub just a cover for human trafficking?
After The New Yorker released a scathing article alleging PornHub of sex trafficking & child pornography, two top executives of the site’s parent company resigned. MindGeek confirmed the departures of CEO Feras Antoon & COO David Tassillo in a statement on Tuesday.
These resignations come only a week after The New Yorker article detailed in length the accounts of those who have attempted to get PornHub to remove content including underage or nonconsensual victims. However, according to MindGeek, the resignations have nothing to do with the hard-hitting article.
With these shocking departures of long-time execs and newfound data of PornHub’s illegal videos, what will become of the world’s most popular online porn platform?
The New Yorker exposes MindGeek
Although MindGeek’s policies declare that all videos on PornHub are evaluated and uploaded with the consent of those in the video, it’s clear that the site has continuously failed to do just that. With numerous reports of explicit videos of minors and revenge porn being shared on the site, the company is failing to enforce its own policy.
Another issue is the presence of porn videos that include sex trafficking victims. The New Yorker reported that a thirty-year-old man had been arrested in Florida for lewd & lascivious battery of a fifteen-year-old girl who had been missing for nearly a year. Her family had found roughly fifty-eight videos of her on PornHub.
In the tell-all article, various victims shared their own harrowing stories about videos being uploaded onto the site without their consent. Even when they contacted the company to remove the videos, it would take days for them to respond and remove them, only for these clips to be reuploaded almost immediately after.
A former employee spoke with The New Yorker about such practices and revealed that these delays in response were intentional. At the time, MindGeek had the technical ability to remove videos from its sites while they were being investigated, but it didn’t always use those tools. “They will purposely delay,” the former employee said. “They’ll say, ‘We’ll get back to you in two, three days once we do our review.’”
However, by the time a review was complete, an illegal video could have been up for multiple days, and ad space sold against it. “The user did not get punished,” the former employee went on. “MindGeek still made money.”
MindGeek responds to the callout
The company said in a statement that it had enacted the most extensive safeguards “in the history of the internet” and that data proves its policies have been effective. The statement cited a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children report showing that PornHub had few instances of child sexual abuse and that it removed cases of such material “in the shortest amount of time after being notified among all major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more.”
“The New Yorker had the opportunity to seriously evaluate what works in fighting illegal material on the internet by looking at the facts, comparing the policies of platforms, and studying the results,” MindGeek’s statement said.
“Instead, they chose to ignore the fact that MindGeek has more comprehensive and effective policies than any other major platform on the internet, and decided to peddle the same gross mischaracterizations that anti-porn extremists have spewed for decades.”
This isn’t the company’s first public fiasco. In December 2020, Mastercard, Visa, and Discover blocked customers from using their credit cards on PornHub’s website after the New York Times published an opinion piece accusing PornHub of being rampant with nonconsensual & underage material.
What do you think will happen to PornHub? Will they face any repercussions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.