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34 women are suing Pornhub and its parent company, accusing the site of profiting from trafficked videos of them

Jun 19, 2021, 20:02 IST
Business Insider
Pornhub, a popular pornography site, is one of the most visited websites in the US.Shutterstock
  • A civil case was filed against Pornhub's parent company by 34 women on Thursday.
  • The case alleges the company knowingly profits from sex trafficking, including underage trafficking.
  • One of the plaintiffs was trafficked from age seven, and at one point was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein.

Pornhub's parent company MindGeek is being sued by 34 women who accuse it of knowingly profiting from videos of them, which were uploaded without their consent.

The civil case was filed on Thursday in a California court, and each of the plaintiffs alleges they were the victims of sex trafficking.

Out of 34 plaintiffs, 14 say they were victims of underage sex trafficking. The plaintiffs come from various US states, as well as the UK and Thailand.

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"This is a case about rape, not pornography," the lawsuit states. It claims that MindGeek knowingly allowed non-consensual content to proliferate on its sites as part of its business model.

One of the plaintiffs says a nude video which her high-school boyfriend had coerced her into making when she was 13 was shared on Pornhub n 2014. She says it took Pornhub four weeks to remove the video after she flagged it to the website, but it continued to be downloaded and re-uploaded, and most recently a version of it was found on Pornhub in June 2020.

Another of the plaintiffs says she was trafficked from age seven up until she went to college, and was at one point trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein. At least seven videos of her were uploaded to Pornhub, according to the lawsuit.

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Pornhub refuted the lawsuit's claims in a statement to Insider. "Pornhub has zero tolerance for illegal content and investigates any complaint or allegation made about content on our platforms," a company spokesperson said.

Pornhub also said the lawyer leading the case, Michael Bowe was a " a soldier of the ultra-right wing effort to shut down the adult content industry." Bowe previously represented President Donald Trump during the Mueller enquiry into Russian interference.

"We stand resolutely with all victims of internet-related abuse. Pornhub takes every complaint regarding the abuse of its platform seriously, including those of the plaintiffs in this case," a spokesman added.

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Read more: Former Pornhub moderators describe lax rules while being ordered to watch up to 1,200 videos per day: 'Our job was to find weird excuses to keep videos on our sites'

This lawsuit comes six months after Pornhub announced sweeping changes to its moderation policies in reaction to a New York Times op-ed, which accused it of hosting and profiting off illegal content including child sexual abuse material.

The policy changes included limiting who is allowed to upload content to Pornhub and introducing "fingerprinting technology" to track down banned videos that have been re-uploaded.

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