Julie Bindel

The truth about Pornhub

The truth about Pornhub
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You have probably never heard of MindGeek, the huge tech company that owns Pornhub: the world's most popular porn site. Pornhub, which has 42 billion visits per year, is currently under fire for its apparent lack of safeguarding checks. Six million videos a year are posted on the site; some, according to anti-porn campaigners, depicting rape and sexual abuse. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has found more than 100 cases of child abuse on the site between 2017 and 2019.

Inspired by the Traffickinghub petition which recently hit two million signatures, campaigners are taking the fight against pornography directly to MindGeek's doorstep. Today, a demonstration, with facemasks and social distancing, of course, is taking place outside its UK HQ in Uxbridge, Greater London, in the hope that this public display will put pressure on the Government to expedite the Online Harms Regulation and hold porn sites accountable for their complicity in sexual exploitation.

MindGeek is the parent company to almost 100 websites that collectively consume more bandwidth than Facebook, Twitter and Amazon combined. It has become the largest multinational porn conglomerate in the world, controlling most of the major free porn sites. Pornhub entices traffic by offering free access but then users get bombarded with advertisements for pay-sites.

According to Gail Dines, a leading authority on the porn industry, 'rather than take responsibility for content uploaded to their sites, MindGeek pushes the line that they are not the creators but merely the hosts, and that the performers are all engaging in porn consensually'.

I have spent many hours combing through the content on Pornhub and can confirm that it is vile in the extreme. Pornhub hosts videos including ‘sleep forced abuse drunk passed out’. There is also overt racism, such as ‘Ebony slave girl porn' and 'the most racist porn video ever created.'

Pornhub has been accused of turning a blind eye to the exploitation of women featured in the videos on the site. Now, mainly because of survivors speaking out, the feminist anti-porn movement has gathered pace in recent years. But the battle against the commercial sex trade should not be left only to feminists. Any human rights campaigner should be challenging Pornhub, because of the horrific videos appearing on the site.

Sara* met Phil* (names changed to protect identity) at a party and spent the night with him. A week later, Phil sent her footage of them having sex by WhatsApp, and Sara, already distressed that he had made the film without her being aware, was horrified to see that it had been uploaded onto Pornhub.

'My world fell apart in that moment,' Sara tells me. 'All I could think was how violated I would be forever, because once that film is up there it can be watched by anyone.'

Rose Kalemba who, aged just 14, was raped at knifepoint by two men while a third filmed the attack. The video ended up on Pornhub. Rose says she spent six months emailing the company in vain, begging it to take down the footage of her abuse. It was only removed after teenage Rose posed as a lawyer and sent a threatening email. Rose tells me she suffered terrible PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) not just as a result of the rape, but because it was posted online.

Tina* a former porn performer who escaped the UK porn industry in 2012 says that 'those who attempted to speak out about the abuse were silenced and mocked. I left the industry after an incident in which my drink was spiked on set.'

I saw for myself how misogynistic the porn industry is when I attended the XBIZ porn awards in Los Angeles. But I could never have imagined how much worse it has become today. Join in the protest and speak out against those that profit from women’s pain. Pornography should be rebranded as hate speech against women, and an incitement to sexual violence. The more visible the protest against the likes of MindGeek, the less likely it is that abuse will be seen merely as entertainment.

Written byJulie Bindel

Journalist, author, broadcaster, feminist campaigner against sexual violence.

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