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The end of Pornhub? Mia Khalifa and others speak out against the website

In recent weeks, Pornhub has gained increasing criticism surrounding its moderation of unethical content and negligence towards cases of trafficking or sexual assault on the site. This condemnation has boiled down into a number of movements aiming to get the site completely shutdown, with the main petition gaining over 1 million signatures.

However, as the red flags for unethical porn are notoriously hard to spot, this has left a lot of unanswered questions for the average consumer. How do you know which videos are exploitative? Where do you find ethically produced content? Pornhub say that they take these issues seriously, why are they potentially getting shutdown? We investigate.

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Photo: @miakhalifa on TikTok; Pornhub; Traffickinghub.com on change.org

With porn viewership skyrocketing during lockdown, actors, producers, and advocates have banded together to demand justice for those who have been exploited by major sites, such as Pornhub. But, what happens if these sites get shut down? We break down the best ways to ensure that the porn you are watching is ethical.

For those not up to date with Pornhub’s long history of problematic conduct, let’s do a little run down. A number of disturbing examples have reared their heads in the last few weeks, but there are three that stand above the rest. Let’s start with the site’s negligence towards content depicting child sexual assault, exploitation, or trafficking.

Website Traffickinghub.com has recently launched in order to spread awareness of Pornhub’s misconduct, provide a platform for victims to speak out, and to bring the site to justice. Also starting a contingent change.org petition to completely shut down the organisation, the site lists a number of horrifying cases which have either been ignored by the site or approached with extreme negligence.

Amongst countless others, the petition brings attention to one truly harrowing investigation. “In 2019 the Internet Watch Foundation stated that it alone had confirmed 118 cases of child rape and sexual abuse on Pornhub—half of the videos were Category A level abuse, which includes penetration and sadism,” Traffickinghub.com writes.

“The Sunday Times investigation into Pornhub reported finding ‘dozens’ of illegal child abuse videos within ‘minutes’, including abuse images of children as young as three years old. Some of the videos identified by the newspaper’s investigation ‘had 350,000 views and had been on the platform for more than three years.’ It went on to say ‘three of the worst clips still remained on the site 24 hours later.'”

At the time of writing, Traffickinghub.com advertise that over 1.5 million users have signed to hold Pornhub accountable.

The next example would be the mistreatment of former porn actor Mia Khalifa. Despite only working in the industry for three months back in 2014, Khalifa is still one of Pornhub’s most popular actresses, her videos boasting millions of views each. However, the violent backlash following a scene in which she was forced to wear a hijab deeply scarred the actress, contributing to her recent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis.

“I said to [the director], ‘You’re going to get me fucking killed’. And not even a week later, the death threats were racking up. The entire Middle East was after me,” Khalifa revealed in an interview. “I could have [refused to wear it] but being 21 and moderately demure, I didn’t know that I could speak up and say that.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Look what y’all did… I love you so much. #GenZ, and especially the creator of the hashtag, Bella, haven’t stopped spreading awareness in 4 days and this is the result. I promise I will make #justiceformia the first step to change, this movement these girls have started will shed light on the predatory practices of that industry, and help save the annual thousands of girls from the same traps. Shop ethical. Support the WOMEN who own & distribute their content, not the ones exploited by having no control of their bodies. ALSO, please keep the momentum going for causes that need more attention than anything else right now. Most of which being the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the ongoing BLM fight, and COVID safety (wear a fucking mask).

A post shared by Mia K. (@miakhalifa) on

Khalifa has since revealed that numerous accounts of intimidation from producers forced her into many nonconsensual situations, sparking an online movement titled #JusticeForMia. Herself and fans have been advocating for the actress’ videos to be removed by the site, however Pornhub have been adamantly uncooperative.

“Me trying to finance a lawsuit against a billion-dollar conglomerate with multiple teams of lawyers ready to bankrupt any girl wanting to right her wrongs,” Khalifa writes in a TikTok video. 

Our final example, the disgusting occurrence of Black Lives Matter porn appearing on the site. Although the company maintains that it “stands in solidarity against social injustice”, Pornhub videos such as “black lives matter thug choking out a white cop daughter” and “Black Anal Matters” beg to differ.

With Pornhub currently standing as the world’s largest NSFW company, the site’s 120 million daily viewers will need to seek alternate means if the organisation is shut down. But, how do viewers ensure that the videos they are watching have been produced ethically? Porn actress and producer Kim Cums recently told Junkee Media that, whilst there are many ethically-inclined porn sites out there, a viewer’s best bet is to pay for the videos they watch.

“Ethical porn should always be defined by a performer’s experience throughout the production process. Was a performer given a clear set of expectations before arriving on set? Did they know what the scene was going to be about, what sex acts were going to be involved?” Kim explained.

Free porn sites are notorious for empowering revenge porn, not verifying the ages of each actor, and pirating content, detracting any royalties from the original actors. Paid videos will also naturally lead to a higher production budget, allowing more resources and better conditions for the workers involved.

Whilst exploitative paid content still runs rampant throughout the industry, Kim does agree that opting for the more expensive option is a good place to start. There are also a number of sites dedicated to safe and consensual workplace practices, including OnlyFans.com. With all videos moderated from behind a paywall, OnlyFans grants performers the rights over where their content is viewed and how it is distributed.

Yet, Doctor Zahra Stardust notes that a multifaceted approach is essential for eradicating these horrifying practices from the porn industry. She notes that initiative from audiences, as well as a drastic change in Australia’s lack of legal protections for sex workers is necessary.

To sign TraffickingHub’s petition, click here.

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July 11, 2020