TikTok removes Pornhub within hours of being contacted by sexual exploitation watchdog

A phone screen displays the TikTok logo. | Unsplash/Kon Karampelas

TikTok has become the latest company to disassociate with Pornhub following a series of allegations that the website has posted and profited off of pornographic content involving children and other content posted without the consent of the victims featured. 

The social media website owned by the China-based company ByteDance booted Pornhub not long after receiving a complaint that one of the world's largest porn websites had joined the platform, according to a statement released by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation Monday. 

Anti-sexual exploitation advocate Laila Mickelwait retweeted Pornhub's Nov. 23 tweet celebrating that it had joined TikTok, a platform popular among children and young adults. NCOSE claims that the social media website removed Pornhub within hours of the group reaching out. 

TikTok told The Christian Post that the account was removed for violating its community guidelines.

Lina Nealon, NCOSE's director of corporate and strategic initiatives, told CP that the social media website also considers a platform's offline behavior when deciding whether to allow them to post content.

"We know that Pornhub has extensive evidence of child sex abuse material, videos of rape, sex trafficking images, sexual abuse and several other corporations have cut ties, including Instagram," Nealon said. 

"And furthermore, TikTok, as we know, is extremely popular with young people. And having a predatory, exploitative enterprise like Pornhub available to young people is normalizing this type of the industry and serving as implicit advertising."

A spokesperson for the nonprofit said NCOSE's contacts at TikTok said Pornhub had repeatedly violated the platform's community guidelines. The contacts confirmed that the pornography website would not be allowed back on TikTok.

Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, have been hit with class-action lawsuits in recent years. A lawsuit filed in July 2021 against MindGeek involves two child sex abuse survivors claiming that the company distributed videos depicting their rape without verifying their ages or if they consented to the videos being uploaded. 

Another $500 million lawsuit was filed earlier this year by a Canadian woman claiming she was featured in pornographic videos uploaded online without her consent. 

Nealon contends the presence of Pornhub on TikTok would have led children to the "criminal content" on the site. She expressed gratitude to TikTok for recognizing that young people should not be exposed to a "predatory" enterprise like Pornhub.

NCOSE has pressured social media platforms and other mainstream companies to do more to safeguard children from Pornhub. Nealon said Pornhub and MindGeek rely on several mainstream partners to "thrive," whether through advertising, credit card companies or social media.

NCOSE runs a "Dismantle Pornhub" campaign to call on companies to cut ties with the pornography website. While TikTok has removed Pornhub, Nealon said that Twitter, Youtube and Discord must follow suit. 

"No mainstream corporation should be partnering with a platform like Pornhub," she said. "They are, in fact, very likely helping Pornhub monetize the child sex abuse material, rape videos and non-consensual material."

In 2020, both Visa and Mastercard suspended the ability for their cards to be used on Pornhub after a 2020 New York Times expose reported that the company profited from sexual abuse.

In a 2021 blog post, Mastercard released new rules that required banks to ensure pornography websites verify the age and identity of individuals featured in videos or images. In addition, banks need to verify the content was posted with the consent of the individual displayed. 

As The Christian Post reported, Visa re-established its relationship with Pornhub and NCOSE accused the company of failing "to follow the example of Mastercard in requiring that sites hosting sexually explicit material implement common-sense measures to prevent and remove illegal content." 

In July, Serene Fleites filed a lawsuit against MindGeek in the U.S. District Court Central District of California. Fleites alleged that Pornhub hosted a sexually explicit video of her 13-year-old self in 2014, which her boyfriend posted online without her consent. 

The video garnered over 400,000 views, and the lawsuit alleges that MindGeek profited from the advertisements included in the video. 

The lawsuit also listed Visa as a defendant. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney denied Visa's motion for dismissal, stating that the company knew MindGeek contained child pornography and had failed to take it down. 

In September, NCOSE praised another social media platform, Instagram, for suspending Pornhub's account. Pornhub's account had 13 million followers and over 6,200 posts at the time of the suspension. 

While Porbhub's Instagram page did not expose users to pornographic content, it encouraged them to become pornography performers. 

"Instagram was right to remove Pornhub from its platform for violating its community standards given the increasing reports of Pornhub hosting child sexual abuse material, sex trafficking, filmed rape, and non-consensual videos and images," NCOSE CEO Dawn Hawkins said in a September statement to CP. 

"Instagram served as a distribution partner with this criminal enterprise, helping to push millions to their website, including children. We are grateful that Instagram has heard the voices of sexual abuse survivors who have been personally harmed by Pornhub's insatiable appetite for profit."

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follower her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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