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Anti-trafficking groups celebrate closure of XTube, warn takedown of Pornhub is next

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Getty Images/Oscar Wong

Anti-trafficking groups are celebrating the announcement that XTube, a pornography website owned by Mindgeek, will be shutting down its operations and warned that the takedown of Pornhub is next. 

Laila Mickelwait, a prominent figure in the anti-trafficking and sexual abuse movement, posted a statement from XTube on her Twitter account Monday evening, along with the message: "Lesson: If you can’t operate legally, you can’t operate at all. Next up: Pornhub."

The XTube statement said that the site will be shutting down on Sept. 5, with the ability to upload exploitative videos having already been disabled.

“It’s a sad day for us at XTube,” read the XTube statement. “We’re proud of the vibrant community we’ve built since 2008 and we’re grateful to all of you who have shared your content on our platform.” 

The statement did not offer an explanation for the closure but noted that July was the last billing month for paid porn subscribers and recommended that users continue to support them by going to other Mindgeek-owned porn sites, Pornhub and MyDirtyHobby.

According to an FAQ page on its website, as part of the closure, content uploading was disabled on Monday; the ability to download user-generated content has also been disabled.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, a group that has long advocated for the shutting down of porn sites for allowing traffickers, pedophiles and rapists to upload videos of their victims, celebrated the news in a statement emailed out to supporters on Tuesday.

“XTube’s announced shutdown is more evidence that MindGeek’s exploitation empire is crumbling,” said NCOSE CEO Dawn Hawkins. “XTube’s closure is a clear victory for the movement to hold Pornhub, MindGeek, and the pornography industry accountable for their facilitation of sexual abuse and exploitation.”

Hawkins went on to say that she believes “XTube’s decision to close was not made in a vacuum,” but rather it came “after mounting pressure from legislators, outrage in the media, loss of mainstream corporate support, and survivors stepping forward to demand justice through lawsuits.”

“We hope that XTube’s closing is a harbinger of things to come for MindGeek. We look forward to the day we can announce that Pornhub and additional MindGeek-owned pornography sites are ending,” added Hawkins.

Mindgeek owns multiple porn websites, including Pornhub, which has an estimated 20 million subscribers worldwide.

There has been a growing outrage against Pornhub and Mindgeek over credible allegations of being culpable in sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

This includes users uploading videos showing sexual violence against children and allowing the videos to be downloaded by visitors to their websites and uploaded elsewhere.

Last December, in response to widespread criticism over its handling of illegal content, Pornhub announced that it would establish new content policing standards.

These changes included allowing only verified users to upload content, preventing users from downloading most content on the site, and forming relationships with nonprofits to monitor potentially illegal videos.

Gail Dines, author of Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality, told Fox News opinion host Laura Ingraham in a previous interview that despite the new policy, thousands of "incest porn" videos are still up on the website under various categories, as well as "teen porn."

Dines said that if Pornhub was actually going to remove all abuse videos from its website, "there would be nothing left" because all pornography is "based on violence against women and the dehumanization and degradation of women and children."

Pornhub is also facing a lawsuit filed by 40 women who accused the site of profiting off their exploitation when they were working for the group Girls Do Porn.

The U.S. Department of Justice effectively closed down Girls Do Porn back in 2019 when its senior staff members were arrested. Up until then, it had been a partner of MindGeek.

In February, two unnamed child abuse survivors filed a lawsuit against Mindgeek and Pornhub over videos of their abuse being uploaded to the pornography website.

These and other actions have led many, including a group of about 700 sex abuse survivors, to call on Congress to launch a criminal investigation of Pornhub and Mindgeek.

“MindGeek, which owns Pornhub and at least 160 other hardcore pornography websites, serves as a case study of corporate indifference regarding harm caused to women and children on its platform,” stated the survivors in a letter sent to Congress in May.

“It has received widespread international condemnation for facilitating and profiting from criminal acts including sex trafficking, filmed sexual abuse of children, and nonconsensually recorded and distributed pornography.”

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