Diary

Pornhub and What Tech Has Wrought

(AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

 

Nicholas Christof’s bombshell expose‘ of Pornhub in the New York Times sent shockwaves through Congress and put the Big XXX giant on the defensive, promising major changes to the ways it amalgamates and monetizes smut.

Pornhub, writes Christof, “monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.”

Readers may have wondered how the tenth most visited site on the internet could get away with monetizing content which less connected people would rightfully be arrested for merely having in their possession.

Senator Ben Sasse called for the Department of Justice to investigate Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek. Mastercard and Visa have promised to examine whether to continue doing business with the site.

Newly repentant Pornhub has solemnly vowed to limit uploads to verified users and ban users from downloading most clips.

By allowing unverified users to upload content, the site has hosted untold hours of exploitative and illegal video, ruining lives in the process.

Christof interviewed several young people who have been stalked by Pornhub. One young woman, who was trafficked and forced to appear in pornographic videos from age nine, says the videos still show up on the site. She’s now 23. “I’m still getting sold,” she told Christof, “even though I’m five years out of that life,”

Another young woman was pressured, at age 14, to make a video for a boy she liked. The video quickly found its way onto Pornhub. She was shamed at school, switched schools, but the videos and shaming followed.

Perhaps having accrued enough wealth selling rape and child porn, the owners of Pornhub may now reform and become more socially responsible pornographers. Unfortunately, there’s reason to believe that other outlets can pick up their slack, with help from social media outlets and the search engine that once preached, “Don’t be evil.”

“Depictions of child abuse also appear on mainstream sites like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook,” writes Christof. “And Google supports the business models of companies that thrive on child molestation.”

“Google returns 920 million videos on a search for ‘young porn.’ Top hits include a video of a naked ‘very young teen’ engaging in sex acts on XVideo along with a video on Pornhub whose title is unprintable here.”

The very companies that tout themselves as the conscience of the nation, even the world, reserving for themselves the right, nay moral obligation, to censor content that could damage their favored political party, monetize the most unmistakably evil content on the internet.

If the Pornhub moment inflicts massive damage on the brand, humanity will be better for that, but now might be a time to take stock of the moral carnage that Big Tech has wrought.

This technology — the devices, the networks that connect them, were supposed to liberate. What happened?

Much of the cobalt in the lithium ion batteries that power our devices is mined by child laborers who brave filthy, dangerous conditions for substandard wages in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Half of the world’s iPhones are made in Foxconn’s sprawling Zhengzhou Science Park, where hundreds of thousands of workers toil long shifts, six days a week, with hardly enough time to sleep in drab company town dormitories, much less have a social life. All that drudgery is still not enough. Apple was among several US companies that recently lobbied to water down protections under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Planned obsolescence is built into your device. Apple has been known to throttle down your battery if you’re too slow to dispose. The e-waste ends up in sprawling apocalyptic dumps like Ghana’s Agbogbloshie where impoverished “burner boys” inhale toxic fumes extracting copper amid a wasteland of discarded Pornhub purveyors.

The fruits of that labor? Back in the developed world, depression and suicidal ideation is skyrocketing among screen-and-social-media-addicted teens, especially among girls. But how could that not be the case in a world where a 14-year old girl transfers schools to escape her tech-enabled tormentors, only to be tormented by another group of sadistic porn-addled teens? If you’re part of the wolf pack, like Jay Z said: “Google’s your friend, bruh.”

At the top of the pyramid built on the backs of child cobalt miners and burner boys, exploited children and suicidal teens, in shining cities far from Agbogbloshie but not unblighted by tent cities of homeless drug addicts, one of the most privileged cohorts on the planet hover at each other’s throats in an escalating woke olympics so disruptive that management has to whistle time out.

Yet our secular Kohanim, for all their bleeding edge civic virtue and legendary algorithmic expertise, couldn’t or wouldn’t figure out how to keep the real thing out of search results for “young porn.”

We need to think hard about an exit from this moral edifice.