Child sex abuse survivors sue Pornhub over abuse footage on site

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Two people who were sexually abused as minors have filed suit against Pornhub and its owner, Mindgeek, over videos of their abuse being uploaded to the popular pornography website.

In a class action complaint filed last Thursday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, two unnamed plaintiffs accused Pornhub of victimizing them.

According to the lawsuit, Pornhub profited from these and other child pornography videos, making it culpable in the sex trafficking of two underage individuals.

“Sex traffickers and the Defendants worked together to earn a profit from commercial sex acts and child pornography involving the Plaintiffs and Class members,” stated the complaint.

“MindGeek’s platform traditionally made it easy for traffickers, rapists, or would-be criminals to go undetected as account holders or managers who would control and recover any associated compensation.”

The complaint went on to argue that “MindGeek completely fails to control the torrent of videos available on its sites depicting children being molested, rapes of children and adults, persons who are incapacitated and otherwise unwilling participants.”

This failure involved having too small and inexperienced a staff to properly monitor content, according to the complaint, even though the company has the resources to hire more monitors.

The complaint also dismissed recently added accountability measures for Pornhub, such as its verification process for accounts, as being “woefully inadequate.”  

Dani Pinter, senior legal counsel for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center, is one of multiple attorneys helping to represent the two Jane Does who are suing Pornhub.

“On behalf of themselves and numerous other survivors, Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 are courageously confronting this international mega-corporation for violating federal laws against sex trafficking,” said Pinter in a statement last Friday.

“It is time to listen to survivors. This lawsuit does just that and the message to MindGeek is clear: the impunity is over.”

Last December, in response to a widely read New York Times report on detailing how many minors have had videos of their rape and abuse uploaded to Pornhub, the website announced new standards for its content.

This included allowing only verified users to upload content, stopping users from downloading most videos, and building relationships with nonprofits to flag videos with illegal content.

“At Pornhub, nothing is more important than the safety of our community. Our core values such as inclusivity, freedom of expression and privacy are only possible when our platform is trusted by our users,” stated the site at the time.

“This is why we have always been committed to eliminating illegal content, including non-consensual material and child sexual abuse material. Every online platform has the moral responsibility to join this fight, and it requires collective action and constant vigilance.”

Soon after the standards were announced, Pornhub removed millions of videos from its website and admitted to there being at least 118 confirmed instances of child sexual abuse material.

Despite the changes, Pornhub was sued last December by 40 women who accused the site of profiting off their exploitation when they were part of a group called Girls Do Porn.

The United States Department of Justice effectively closed down Girls Do Porn in 2019 when its senior staff members were arrested. Up until then, it was a partner of MindGeek.

"As early as 2009, and definitely by fall 2016, MindGeek knew Girls Do Porn was trafficking its victims by using fraud, coercion, and intimidation," read the complaint from the 40 women.

"Despite this knowledge, MindGeek continued to partner with Girls Do Porn, never bothering to investigate or question its business partner regarding the mounting evidence of sex trafficking that MindGeek received."

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