This past December, we achieved our biggest victory yet—after years of tireless advocacy from passionate defenders of dignity like you, the hardcore online pornography titan Pornhub is finally crumbling before our eyes!
Fighting against the pornography and commercial sex industries can feel like an uphill battle, a hill so steep that sometimes it seems we haven’t moved at all. But in 2020, the movement made incredible steps forward thanks to our cunning strategy and the brave survivors who used their voices to expose this exploitative and abusive industry—steps we believe will truly help cripple online pornography forever.
After the New York Times published an exposé on the horrific realities of Pornhub profiting off of child sexual abuse material in early December 2020, the foundation that Pornhub and its parent company MindGeek have built for their exploitative work began to crumble.
Despite Pornhub’s meager attempts at social justice branding and “relatable” marketing on social sites like Twitter, the online hardcore pornography site, according to the Times article, is “infested with rape videos monetizing child rape, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.” Searching for terms indicating underage subjects, such as “14yo,” yielded more than 100,000 videos alone.
In late 2019, online payment processor PayPal cut ties with Pornhub—as did Unilever after it faced public scrutiny for advertising on the platform—and, thanks to NCOSE-led advocacy efforts, popular brand Kraft Heinz also ended its association with Pornhub around the same time. In 2020, protests were held globally on the United Nation’s International Day of Non-Violence.
The outrage against Pornhub grew steadily throughout 2020 as an advocacy effort from one of our allies, Exodus Cry, to shut down the site gained monumental traction. Their #TraffickingHub petition was signed by over two million people.
All of these efforts culminated in a massive victory when Visa and Mastercard, two major credit card companies, announced they would be pulling their cards from being used on Pornhub within hours of each other. Discover, another major credit card network, followed closely behind. This represents a historic shift in corporations taking a stand against the abuse inherent to Pornhub and the pornography industry as a whole.
This victory followed on the heels of years of hard work and advocacy by grassroots advocates, an international coalition of NGOs, and brave survivor leadership. We are so grateful for all the dedication and perseverance that was invested—often times behind the scenes—by so many tireless allies and advocates to make this possible.
Indeed, many of you were a crucial part of the NCOSE-led effort that saw over 100,000 emails sent to Visa, Mastercard, and other international card companies in early 2020.
But perhaps (at the time of this writing) the biggest victory yet was Pornhub’s decision to make sweeping changes across its platform—changes that resulted in millions of videos (nearly 75% of their content) depicting child abuse, rape, racism, incest, and more being removed from Pornhub and other MindGeek sites! In just a matter of hours, Pornhub’s sinister library of harmful content went from around 13.8 million videos to just 2.9 million. And while that’s still 2.9 million exploitative videos too many, we acknowledge the major win that this represents in the fight against sexual exploitation!
Pornhub even noted these developments were directly caused by the efforts spearheaded by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (rightly noting us as wanting to abolish pornography), as well as the #Traffickinghub campaign, in their announcement of the changes. You have been with us step-by-step as we fought our way up this hill. Raising your voice and demanding change has been worth it!
We also know this fight isn’t over. Removing unverified content, banning downloads, and increasing content moderating is barely scratching the surface of meaningful recompense for the survivors of the abusive, degrading, and harmful content that Pornhub’s very business model is based on.
NCOSE is looking for the view at the top of that hill—a world truly free from all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation, including pornography. We’ve taken some incredibly big steps, but we’re not there yet.
In 2021, we’ll be fighting harder than ever to ensure the online pornography industry is taken down once and for all!
To read a full report of all that you have helped the National Center on Sexual Exploitation achieve this past year, view our 2020 Impact Report.
Check out this timeline of the fight against Pornhub: