What's the Problem with Pornhub?

Pornhub has faced backlash for years due to posting inappropriate and illegal content. The site has been accused of promoting sex trafficking, child pornography and sexual abuse. A few weeks ago, videos of Avri Sapir being raped as a child were uploaded to Pornhub. The videos were left up for days, monetizing off of accumulated views. 

When Sapir found out about the videos from her childhood abuse, she reported them on the site and filled out a content removal request form. Pornhub then removed some of Sapir’s underaged videos, but only the ones where she looked undeniably young.

Sapir tweeted,

“The ones where I was older - 9 or 10 - were left up; they were very popular. Finally a full day after being flagged, they were removed as well.”

Sapir said she’s convinced the site met her demands to remove the videos solely because she threatened legal action against them. 

According to the site’s Terms of Service, “upon upload, every video and photo to Pornhub is reviewed manually by a large and extensive team of moderators looking for illegal content.”

If the site’s content moderators had truly reviewed Sapir’s videos before uploading them, they proceeded to tolerate the brutal rape of an infant — particularly the videos of her in diapers and sobbing in pain. 

Sapir also tweeted,

“Pornhub actively profited from my rape. This company does not care about consent, age, legality or morality. All they care about is the view count so that they can show you more ads. They do not care about victims or the torture and trauma they put us through my victimizing us again and again.”

Sapir uses twitter as a platform to hold Pornhub accountable for what they did to her and continue to do to other young girls across the world. 

Rose Kalemba was kidnapped and raped at 14, and like Sapir, videos of her assault ended up on Pornhub. The videos remained on the site for six months, gaining millions of views. In an interview with BBC, Kalemba said she emailed Pornhub numerous times over the course of months following the incident. 

In one email she wrote, “Please, I’m a minor. This was assault. Please take it down.” 

Kalemba then set up a new email account posing as a lawyer, threatening to take legal action against the site. Within 48 hours afterward, the videos were taken down. Kalemba shared a detailed account of her rape on her blog, calling out Pornhub for ignoring her emails until she pretended to be a lawyer. Numerous women and men responded to her post, admitting that they had also been sexually abused on the site’s videos. 

In a statement to the BBC, Pornhub said: "These horrific allegations date back to 2009, several years prior to Pornhub being acquired by its current owners, so we do not have information on how it was handled at that time... Since the change in ownership, Pornhub has continuously put in place the industry's most stringent safeguards and policies when it comes to combating unauthorised and illegal content, as part of our commitment to combating child sex abuse material,” they added. 

Kalemba points out that some of her videos were titled 'teen crying and getting slapped around', 'teen getting destroyed' and 'passed out teen'. Kalemba recalls that one video had over 400,000 views. 

The BBC asked Pornhub why videos with similar titles to those uploaded featuring Rose's rape are still active on Pornhub. The company stated, "we allow all forms of sexual expression that follow our Terms of Use, and while some people may find these fantasies inappropriate, they do appeal to many people around the world and are protected by various freedom of speech laws."

According to Pornhub Insights, Worldwide traffic to Pornhub was up 11.6% on March 17th as more people stay home due to COVID-19. Increased viewership concerns victims like Kalemba as they can’t help but wonder how many other victims are exploited. Sapir and Kalemba are two examples of the plethora of victims Pornhub has taken advantage of. Victims and allies alike are taking a stand and are petitioning to take mainstream porn sites down. The Traffickinghub campaign is a non-religious, non-partisan effort that aims to hold Pornhub accountable for enabling and profiting off of the mass exploitation of people and minors. They created the petition, “Shut Down Pornhub and Hold Its Executives Accountable for Aiding Trafficking.”

The petition states, “Pornhub has no reliable system in place to verify that those in the videos it hosts are not trafficked children being raped on film in order to line the pockets of its executives... What all of this means is that at this very moment, there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of videos of underage sex trafficking victims on Pornhub,” they added. 

The petition has gained nearly one million signatures since launching four months ago. Like Sapir and Kalemba, the Traffickinghub campaign wants to shut Pornhub down and hold its executives accountable. Pornhub’s actions are heinous, but this doesn’t mean all sex work is bad or that people shouldn’t support sex workers. Instead, people should consider where their porn comes from and choose more ethical content where people aren’t sexually exploited.