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Pornhub Attempts to Defend Its Disgraceful Oversight on Child Sexual Abuse

(BogdanVj/Getty Images)

On Friday afternoon, I wrote a post about New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s new feature piece, “The Children of Pornhub.” I quoted from his heavily reported piece at length, including Kristof’s observation that Pornhub “is infested with rape videos” and “monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.”

I also noted that his article is not the first time that Pornhub and its parent company MindGeek have come under fire in the last year alone for allowing this type of content to appear on its site. Late Friday evening, I received a response from Pornhub’s PR folks, pushing back against the information in Kristof’s piece and my echoing of that information.

“Any assertion that we allow CSAM [child sexual abuse material] is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue,” I was told by a nameless spokesperson for the company. “We have zero tolerance for CSAM. Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating CSAM, and has instituted an industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community.”

The statement asserted that the website’s safeguards to prevent this content from appearing have proven effective. “The Internet Watch Foundation, the leading independent authority on CSAM, reported 118 incidents of CSAM on Pornhub in a three year period,” the spokesperson said, and contrasted that number with the thousands of reported instances of child–sexual-abuse pornography on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The spokesperson went on to claim that Pornhub employs “a vast team of human moderators dedicated to manually reviewing every single upload.” This suggestion is nearly impossible to take seriously, considering that Pornhub itself reported an average of 2.8 hours of pornography uploaded to the site per minute in 2019. But even if this claim were true, the promise to eradicate all child sexual abuse from the site with the help of human moderators conflicts with Pornhub’s own admission that at least 118 incidents of child sexual abuse did appear on the site in a three-year period.

Either the company properly monitors all content or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, it is responsible for the lack of oversight that allowed abusive and illegal pornography to appear on its site. If it does monitor all content, then the company is responsible for hiring human moderators who directly assented to allowing such pornography to appear.

In a comment to National Review responding to Pornhub’s latest statement, Nebraska senator Ben Sasse reiterated his call for the Justice Department to investigate the company for allowing this abusive content to appear on its site. “MindGeek’s creeps are not any less evil or scuzzy because they wear suits and hire PR firms,” Sasse said. “Pornhub’s blanket claim that ‘every single upload’ is reviewed by a team of moderators deserves scrutiny given the fact that the site has hosted videos of rape and abuse. If MasterCard and Visa can investigate these online traffickers, so can the Department of Justice.”

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