Blogs
Featured Image
 Shutterstock

(LifeSiteNews) — For decades, it has appeared that the digital porn industry is an unbeatable giant, oozing slime from nearly every screen worldwide. Porn companies rake in more money than entertainment giants; they both facilitate and exacerbate addictions stronger than heroin habits; more than any other corporations, they have facilitated the moral degradation of our society and the breakdown of human relationships.

Six years ago, I was present at a private lecture by several anti-porn activists who laid out a strategy to take down Mindgeek, the porn giant that owns Pornhub. I remember being both hopeful and skeptical — how could a company with so much money, that openly specializes in sexual content that celebrates abuse and degradation, be successfully targeted? As it turns out, the hard, dogged work of activists determined to make the filth-peddlers pay came to fruition.

It has been one scandal after another for Mindgeek over the past several years, with major companies cutting ties, their social media pages being shut down, and reams of press highlighting their distribution of child porn and videos of rape and assault. The once-untouchable corporation has become toxic almost overnight. One of the organizations that has worked so hard to bring this about is the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, a leading non-partisan, U.S.-based organization exposing the links between sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking, and the public health harms of pornography. CEO Dawn Hawkins explained how the campaign against Mindgeek is proceeding.

How significant are the blows that Mindgeek has been facing?

Anti-exploitation advocates and sexual abuse survivors have been fighting for years to dismantle Pornhub/MindGeek because it has hosted child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, non-consensual, incest and racist material.

Recently, a lawsuit against Pornhub and Visa brought by a sex trafficking survivor was allowed to move forward after a federal judge rejected significant portions of the credit card company’s motion to dismiss it from the case. In rejecting Visa’s attempt to avoid going to court, the judge ruled that there was enough evidence showing that the company ‘knowingly provid[ed] the tool to complete the crime” of distributing child sexual abuse material to warrant the survivor’s lawsuit against Visa being heard in court.

After that ruling and immense public pressure, Visa announced it would suspend acceptance privileges for MindGeek’s, Pornhub’s parent company, advertising platform serving pornography websites owned by MindGeek. Mastercard quickly followed suit. Advertising is estimated to make up 50% of MindGeek’s revenue.

No doubt this is a huge blow to the online exploitation industry. It is no coincidence that MindGeek’s two top executives recently fled amid a growing number of lawsuits that we and other law firms have filed on behalf of sex trafficking survivors whose abuse has been shown on Pornhub, and because of the intense outcry from survivors, advocates, corporations, and even from news outlets like The New York Times, The New Yorker, and the BBC that revealed Pornhub’s criminality.

The internet pornography industry has been operating with impunity for several decades. It is time that Pornhub and others like it are held accountable for profiting from sexual exploitation.

How have anti-porn and anti-exploitation organizations successfully pushed for accountability?

In addition to lawsuits, we have been a part of an international effort to dismantle Pornhub, a campaign to call out entities like Visa that support the infrastructure of Pornhub and MindGeek.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s UK-based subsidiary, the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation, along with 62 survivors and advocates representing 11 countries, sent a March 2021 letter to Visa requesting it cut ties with all MindGeek-owned entities.

We have targeted mainstream companies that have partnered with Pornhub or other pornography sites as payment processors, advertisers, distribution partners, and more. This grassroots advocacy resulted in Mastercard and Visa opening investigations into the rampant child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and filmed sex trafficking material on Pornhub.

Survivors and our legal and public advocacy moved mainstream corporate advertisers, such as Kraft-Heinz and Wish, to stop running ads on MindGeek sites. We also convinced Pornhub distribution partners Roku and Comcast to remove Pornhub channels from their services. We must continue to call out companies who facilitate and even profit from sexual exploitation by partnering with Big Porn.

What real-world impact does this have on pornography available to people?

Our aim is to make pornography intolerable in society, much like tobacco has become. The public health and societal harms of pornography are why our fight to dismantle the infrastructure supporting the pornography industry goes beyond just taking on Pornhub.

Research points to pornography’s addictive nature. A 2021 study on cognitive processes related to pornography use found that excessive time and effort is spent watching and searching for pornography, resulting in impaired self-control over pornography use, failure to fulfill family, social, and work responsibilities, and persistence in these sexual behaviors regardless of the personal consequences. Adolescents are more susceptible than adults to addictions and to developmental effects on the brain. And we know that children are being exposed to hardcore pornography through smartphones, school computers, at their friends’ homes.

Currently, online pornography websites do not have to verify the age or that meaningful consent was given of every individual depicted in the content — this must change in the law. There is no such thing as “ethical” pornography: the online pornography industry and exploitation are inherently intertwined.

What impact does this have on those women who have been victimized by the porn industry?

The online pornography industry has countless victims – not only women, but also children and men. For over a decade, MindGeek has been confronted by numerous survivors who have come forward about their sex trafficking or child sexual abuse being filmed and then uploaded, monetized, promoted, made downloadable, and shared countless times on Pornhub and other MindGeek-owned websites. Pornhub has profited from the mass distribution of filmed sexual crime as well as non-consensually recorded and non-consensually uploaded videos.

Sexual abuse survivors are courageous for confronting the exploitative pornography industry and deserve every ounce of justice. We are honored to serve them in pursuit of justice. Our work will not end until everyone can live and love without sexual abuse and exploitation.

What are the next steps?

We continue to serve survivors in their quest for justice. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is co-counsel on a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of two survivors of childhood sex trafficking whose videos and images of their abuse were posted on Pornhub and other MindGeek-owned sites. In February 2022, the judge ruled against MindGeek’s motion to dismiss, enabling the lawsuit to move forward.

We continue to advocate for policy solutions, such as the bipartisan-supported EARN IT Act, which would allow survivor of child sexual abuse material to restore the privacy they have lost because their abuse was uploaded to the internet.

We will continue to hold companies accountable for profiting from someone else’s abuse, period. We hope readers will join our fight!

Featured Image

Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.

Comments

Commenting Guidelines
LifeSiteNews welcomes thoughtful, respectful comments that add useful information or insights. Demeaning, hostile or propagandistic comments, and streams not related to the storyline, will be removed.

LSN commenting is not for frequent personal blogging, on-going debates or theological or other disputes between commenters.

Multiple comments from one person under a story are discouraged (suggested maximum of three). Capitalized sentences or comments will be removed (Internet shouting).

LifeSiteNews gives priority to pro-life, pro-family commenters and reserves the right to edit or remove comments.

Comments under LifeSiteNews stories do not necessarily represent the views of LifeSiteNews.

7 Comments

    Loading...