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Pornhub’s System for Removing Nonconsensual Content Doesn’t Work, Investigation Finds

(Pixabay)

Pornhub, the largest pornography website in the world, pushes users towards content that was recorded nonconsensually, an investigation of the company’s practices has found.

Pornhub continues to recommend and allow to proliferate on its platform content made by porn production company Girls Do Porn, the owner of which has been charged with federal sex trafficking crimes, an investigation by VICE’s Motherboard found.

Women featured in the company’s videos won a civil lawsuit against the company, in which they accused Girls Do Porn of forcing them to have sex on camera after they responded to Craigslist ads for models, and lying about the distribution of the videos. The suit found the company owed 22 women a total of $13 million.

Pornhub removed Girls Do Porn’s official channel in October, months after the production company’s legal woes began, but the popular videos remain on the site en masse, generating revenue for Pornhub’s parent company, Mindgeek.

Some of the women in the Girls Do Porn videos said their presence on Pornhub led to them being doxed. The expansive pornography platform claims victims of nonconsensual porn may request to have their videos removed and prevent further uploads using a tech method called fingerprinting, but Motherboard’s investigation found users can easily bypass fingerprinting and upload the same video.

Pornhub continues to push Girls Do Porn content despite blocking the specific phrase “Girls Do Porn,” its recommendation apparatus suggesting more videos to users based on their past viewing habits.

“Pornhub has been working closely with the plaintiff’s counsel, to fingerprint and remove all Girls Do Porn videos and compilations from our site,” Pornhub said in a statement.

Other pornography sites also make the nonconsensual videos easy to find and recommend more of them, although some of those sites claim they are working on blocking the videos from being uploaded.

“We’ve suggested that it’s not hard to run searches and find other videos—maybe they’re not uploaded by Girls Do Porn, but they are overtly Girls Do Porn,” attorney Cara Van Dorn, who represents the women, told VICE. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to track these things down. It feels like they could be a little more proactive and do that on their own.”

“It’s not really ‘doing the right thing’ when you only act when it is in your self-interest,” Van Dorn added, noting that Pornhub only acted after the case against Girls Do Porn was well underway.

“This is obviously frustrating and a bit disheartening, as it only serves to embolden other traffickers knowing that it takes such a monumental effort from the victims before anyone will believe them,” said Brian Holm, who represented the women who sued Girls Do Porn.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that Pornhub was faced with legal action over the Girls Do Porn videos.

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