Senators demand investigation into Pornhub, Mindgeek ‘scumbags’

“The Department of Justice needs to open an investigation into the scumbags who run Mindgeek,” Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse told the Daily Caller News Foundation Friday.

National Center on Sexual Exploitation/Twitter

Pornhub is “infested with rape videos” and profits off this exploitative content, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist said in a Friday New York Times op-ed.

The massively popular pornography website has been listed the 10th-most-visited website in the world, with 3.5 billion visits a month, and profits from almost three billion ad impressions every day, opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof said.

“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,” Kristof wrote. “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.”

Kristof’s work echoes the accusations of many anti-pornography and anti-sexual exploitation activists: that Pornhub profits from exploitative material and does little to remove violent sexual crimes, sometimes against minors, from its website.

“The Department of Justice needs to open an investigation into the scumbags who run Mindgeek,” Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse told the Daily Caller News Foundation Friday. “Sexual exploitation and human trafficking are abhorrent, period. A decent society should be working to end this.”

“It is completely unacceptable that Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek make money from rape, sexual abuse, and the exploitation of minors,” the senator, who also called on the DOJ to investigate Pornhub in March, added. “They need to be investigated, and the DOJ needs more urgency about building cases against creeps.”

Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley also called for consequences for the pornography giant in a Friday morning tweet, calling Kristof’s story “tremendous reporting” on “the exploitation that occurs on sites like Pornhub.”

“It’s time for it to end,” Hawley tweeted. “I will introduce legislation to create a federal right to sue for every person coerced or trafficked or exploited by sites like Pornhub.”

Activist Laila Mickelwait has accused Pornhub repeatedly of failing to verify the age and consent of those in the videos. Her Change.org petition, which calls for the government to “Shut Down Pornhub and Hold Its Executives Accountable for Aiding Trafficking,” has gained over 1.2 million signatures since it was published in February.

“My research took me to discover what anybody could discover if they go on Pornhub,” Mickelwait told the DCNF in March. “And that is the fact that Pornhub does not require verification of the age or consent of millions of people who are uploading hardcore pornographic content to their website.”

Pornhub has repeatedly denied these accusations and said it is committed to combating child sexual abuse material.

In a statement to Kristof, the pornography website said it “has instituted a comprehensive, industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community” and emphasized that any suggestion that Pornhub allows child videos on its website is “irresponsible and flagrantly untrue.”

Pornhub gave a similar statement to the DCNF in March on its “state-of-the-art, comprehensive safeguards” that “combat and remove all unauthorized content that breaches the platform’s policies.”

“This includes a robust system for flagging, reviewing and removing all illegal material, age-verification tools, and employing an extensive team of human moderators dedicated to manually reviewing all uploads to the site,” Pornhub said in the March statement.

Neither Pornhub nor its parent company Mindgeek responded to multiple requests for comment from the DCNF.

Kristof lists a number of incidents wherein young girls were allegedly exploited by Pornhub: in one example, a mother found her missing 15-year-old daughter in 58 sex videos on Pornhub. In another example, videos of sexual assaults on a 14-year-old California girl were posted on Pornhub and were not removed by the website until a classmate reported them to authorities, Kristof reported.

Pornhub “escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them” in both these cases though the offenders were arrested for the assaults, according to Kristof.

The columnist also shared a story about a young woman named Cali who was reportedly adopted from China and trafficked by her adopted family. From the age of 9, Kristof wrote, Cali’s adopted family forced her to appear in pornographic videos, some of which ended up on Pornhub.

“Pornhub became my trafficker,” 23-year-old Cali said, according to Kristof. “I’m still getting sold, even though I’m five years out of that life.”

“I may never be able to get away from this,” she said. “I may be 40 with eight kids, and people are still masturbating to my photos. You type ‘Young Asian’ and you can probably find me.”

“Pornhub is like YouTube in that it allows members of the public to post their own videos,” Kristof wrote. “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.”

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This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.