Roku to drop Pornhub, adult entertainment channels: 'Victory for survivors of sexual exploitation'

A video sign displays the logo for Roku Inc in Times Square after the company's IPO at the Nasdaq Market in New York, U.S., September 28, 2017.
A video sign displays the logo for Roku Inc in Times Square after the company's IPO at the Nasdaq Market in New York, U.S., September 28, 2017. | REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The streaming media company Roku plans to shut down non-certified channels on its platform next year, which will result in the dropping of Pornhub and other adult entertainment channels.

Roku announced last week that it will remove channels that do not adhere to its terms and conditions, known as non-certified channels, by March 2022.

The move by Roku is part of broader changes to the platform regarding how channels are tested and selected by users. According to The Verge, the change will close a loophole that enables sexually explicit apps like Pornhub to exist on the platform.

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The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which has called on Roku to remove pornographic channels, called Roku’s decision a “victory for survivors of exploitation.”

“Roku’s decision to remove Pornhub and other exploitative pornography channels from its platform is a move that we and other international anti-exploitation groups and survivors have been calling on the company to make for years,” NCOSE CEO Dawn Hawkins said in a statement.

“No company should profit from child sexual abuse, rape, sex trafficking and other exploitive content on its platform and we are glad Roku is finally shutting down its partnership with Pornhub and the entire exploitation industry.”

Still, NCOSE is calling on Roku to ensure that its “upcoming Independent Developer Kit is not used to open that loophole once again.” 

In 2019, NCOSE placed Roku on its annual “Dirty Dozen List,” which highlights mainstream companies and other entities believed to be facilitators of sexual exploitation.

The streaming company was placed on the list due to users accessing hundreds of private channels on Roku that contain pornographic material.

“Pornography channels on Roku depict teen, incest, slavery and violent themes,” explained Lisa Thompson, NCOSE vice president of policy and research, in 2019.

“This confederation between Roku and the pornography industry contrasts to practices of other streaming device industry leaders such as Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, which exclude pornography from their platforms.”

In March, Roku CEO Anthony Wood received a letter signed by 41 survivors of sexual exploitation and activists demanding that his company shut down the Pornhub channel.

“MindGeek, the owner of Pornhub and numerous other hardcore pornography websites, is enabling and profiting from child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, non-consensual content, and sexual violence. By hosting a channel for this entity your corporation is enabling this abuse to continue,” read the letter.

“Roku remains one of the only major corporate entities continuing to support the infrastructure of MindGeek – a decision that not only legitimizes an inherently racist, violent, and degrading company, but also leaves your corporation open to liability as well.”

Other companies have also halted their cooperation with Pornhub. Visa and Mastercard announced last December that they would stop facilitating payments to Pornhub following a report in the New York Times about how Pornhub hosted videos of children being abused on its platform. 

Dozens of women have sued Pornhub, claiming that the porn site profited from their exploitation as victims of sex trafficking. 

In May, hundreds of survivors of sexual assault urged U.S. Congress to investigate Pornhub. 

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