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Media

‘The Children of Pornhub’

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In a lengthy reported piece for the New York Times out today, columnist Nicholas Kristof tells the stories of children who were raped or sexually abused and who had videos of their mistreatment uploaded to the Internet pornography site Pornhub. From Kristof’s reporting:

Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. A search for “girls under18” (no space) or “14yo” leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.

After a 15-year-old girl went missing in Florida, her mother found her on Pornhub — in 58 sex videos. Sexual assaults on a 14-year-old California girl were posted on Pornhub and were reported to the authorities not by the company but by a classmate who saw the videos. In each case, offenders were arrested for the assaults, but Pornhub escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them.

Pornhub is like YouTube in that it allows members of the public to post their own videos. A great majority of the 6.8 million new videos posted on the site each year probably involve consenting adults, but many depict child abuse and nonconsensual violence. Because it’s impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18, neither Pornhub nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal.

Unlike YouTube, Pornhub allows these videos to be downloaded directly from its website. So even if a rape video is removed at the request of the authorities, it may already be too late: The video lives on as it is shared with others or uploaded again and again.

Kristof’s piece is hardly the first time that the website has faced public scrutiny for the content it hosts. A little more than a year ago, PayPal cut off services for Pornhub, refusing to allow users to use the service to pay for subscriptions. And earlier this year, Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) called on the Department of Justice to investigate Pornhub for having “made content available worldwide showing women and girls that were victims of trafficking being raped and exploited.”

Today, Sasse doubled down on that call, telling the Daily Caller that “the Department of Justice needs to open an investigation into the scumbags who run [Pornhub parent company] Mindgeek.”

“Sexual exploitation and human trafficking are abhorrent, period. A decent society should be working to end this,” Sasse added. “It is completely unacceptable that Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek make money from rape, sexual abuse, and the exploitation of minors. They need to be investigated, and the DOJ needs more urgency about building cases against creeps.”

Kristof’s article also comes almost exactly one year after a group of Republican congressmen urged Attorney General Bill Barr and the Justice Department to more vigorously enforce existing laws against obscene pornography, as we reported exclusively here at National Review.

“The Internet and other evolving technologies are fueling the explosion of obscene pornography by making it more accessible and visceral,” the four Republican representatives wrote in their open letter. “This explosion in pornography coincides with an increase in violence towards women and an increase in the volume of human trafficking as well as child pornography.”