Dozens of Women Sue Pornhub for Violating Sex Trafficking Laws

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Pornhub is in hot water again. On Thursday, over 30 women filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that it violated federal sex trafficking laws. The suit accuses the pornography site of distributing child pornography, racketeering, and a host of other offenses.

NBC News reported:

The suit alleges that Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek — and its constellation of porn brands — is a criminal enterprise that purchases, launders and uploads illegal content often obtained through human trafficking and sexual assault.

The plaintiffs claim that MindGeek used non-consensual videos to “become the dominant online pornography company in the world.”

The suit states that these women, who were victims of rape and trafficking, were “victimized first by their original abuser, and then repeatedly by the defendants in this case.”

“Serena Fleites and more than 30 Jane Does allege in the suit that they were victimized by unauthorized videos uploaded and disseminated by Pornhub,” according to NBC News.

In a written statement, Pornhub denied the allegations. “Pornhub has zero tolerance for illegal content and investigates any complaint or allegation made about content on our platforms,” the company insisted. “The allegations in today’s complaint that Pornhub is a criminal enterprise that traffics women and is run like ‘The Sopranos’ are utterly absurd, completely reckless and categorically false.”

The statement also claimed that the website uses “the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history, which include the banning of uploads from unverified users, expanding our moderation processes, and cooperating with dozens of non-profit organizations around the world.”

While testifying before Canada’s House of Commons earlier this year, Fleites said: “I’m one of the people who ended up homeless, ended up dropping out of school, ended up on drugs, completely detached from my family. I ended up trying to kill myself many times. I ended up in mental hospitals.”

Pornhub faced some bad publicity after a New York Times article written by Nicholas Kristof exposed the company’s practice of making a profit from non-consensual videos. “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,” Kristof wrote.

The ensuing uproar resulted in Visa and Mastercard threatening to ban the site, which suspended videos from nonverified users in December. (See: Pornhub Removes All Unverified Videos on Its Site After New York Times Exposé)

The situation for Pornhub will likely only get worse as more sex trafficking victims find out their exploitation is being showcased on the site. Despite taking some measures to prevent rape and trafficking videos from being uploaded to its site, the problem persists. (See: Pornhub Announces ‘Major Changes’ To Protect Sex Trafficking Victims After New York Times Report)

With people becoming more aware of the sex trafficking industry, companies like Pornhub will likely continue to be targeted. Indeed, Twitter is also facing a lawsuit from two minors whose videos were being disseminated on the social media platform. When it was brought to the company’s attention, they refused to remove the content, claiming it did not violate its terms and conditions.

The rulings in these cases could have tremendous ramifications for online platforms. Hopefully, at least some of these cases will lead to a crackdown on sex traffickers and the companies allowing them to share their content on their sites.

Sex trafficking is something I discussed with human trafficking activist Eliza Bleu on my YouTube channel. You can watch below: