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New York Times, Pornhub, Visa & Mastercard: The Debate

New York Times, Pornhub, Visa & Mastercard: The Debate

Yet another example of no one listening to sex workers
Erika Lust | December 17, 2020 | 4 min. read

Pornhub just made major changes to how their platform works, including expanded moderation and new guidelines for content uploads. Now, only verified users can upload videos to the platform – a decision which meant the total number of videos hosted on Pornhub were more than quartered overnight from 13.4 million to 2.9 million – and users can no longer download videos from the site.

This comes after an expose on the New York Times, The Children of Pornhub, which investigated the number of rape videos being hosted on the site, including those of minors. The article, written by Nicholas Kristof, followed the lives of child sexual assault victims whose videos were uploaded onto the site.

The op-ed launched a huge debate within the adult industry over censorship & moderation. People, rightfully so, do not trust Kristof because of his ties to anti-porn organisations and his reputation when it comes to reporting on sex work. In the past he has been accused of conflating sex work with sex trafficking, using misleading statistics, and was instrumental in the shutting down of Backpage, a vital safeguarding tool for sex workers, calling it “the pillar of sex trafficking”. He also quoted Laila Mickelwait in the op-ed, who is an activist and director of Traffickinghub, a campaign launched by Exodus Cry which has anti-sex work, anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion links (it’s founder reportedly compared abortion to the holocaust).

This week, two days after Pornhub announced their changes, Visa and Mastercard started an investigation and soon announced that their cards would no longer be accepted on the platform. This has left Pornhub with no way to process payments other than with cryptocurrencies.

It goes without saying that the decision from Visa & Mastercard has panicked adult content creators who make their living from paid content on Pornhub. Because let’s be clear, Mastercard & Visa’s decision will not hurt Pornhub, who always have and always will continue to make money off of stolen content, this decision hurts sex workers – the people that Pornhub has never cared for.

Adult performers, producers and directors have spent years speaking out about the exploitation within Pornhub and the tube site business model, yet no one has listened.

MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, dominates online porn. It has completely demolished the industry and drained money out of the industry by stealing performers’ work and giving it away for free, and by monopolising the industry. MindGeek is an aggressive tech company through and through, it does not care about porn or adult content creators, it cares about traffic and advertising. It also owns production companies which means performers who may want to speak out about the system ultimately can’t for fear of being black listed from the production companies and therefore having less work and even less money.

"Adult performers have spent years speaking out about the exploitation within Pornhub and the tube site business model, yet no one has listened"

Pornhub does not care about performers and it’s clear that Kristof doesn’t either, but it wasn’t until the New York Times covered this issue that Pornhub did something. I wonder why?

If properly implemented by Pornhub, their new regulations could have had a significant impact on illegal and stolen content, which would be a win for adult performers who have no choice but to use the platform. But with the new ban from Mastercard & Visa, they could now be in an even worse position than before.

This is yet another example, just like SESTA/FOSTA, that shows that when it comes to making changes to the adult industry we must speak to sex workers & have their involvement in policy. Pornhub, Mastercard, & Visa, do not care about the issue of rape videos or of pirated material, these are policies that were brought in under pressure to “do something” out of fear of negative publicity.

We know that Pornhub does not care about the content it hosts, the people it hurts or the lives it ruins – they have shown us this time and again. Just last year they demonstrated this with the Girls do Porn case. Despite 22 women coming forward to sue Girls Do Porn for uploading explicit videos of them to Pornhub without their consent, Pornhub refused to remove the videos from the platform, even promoting them, until Girls do Porn were finally charged with sex trafficking.

Now is not a time to protect Pornhub, it’s time to protect and support the people who will actually be harmed by this. We must remember who have been talking about this for years whilst no one has listened; sex workers.

Please go and find performers, indie producers, and creators of porn for women that you want to support and pay them for their work. Whether it’s on Only Fans or through their personal websites, pay & support sex workers & adult content creators.

Erika Lust is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, and writer who's focus on female pleasure, cinematic values, and ethics in adult cinema have helped to change how pornography is consumed. Erika Lust Films was born in 2004 and since then Erika has ... Read More
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    • Lady Desire
      ein sehr guter Bericht eine gute Stellungnahme Danke! a very good report a good opinion Thank you
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