Opinion | The Children of Pornhub

The Four Percent


So what’s the solution?

I had expected the survivors to want to shut down Pornhub and send its executives to prison. Some did, but others were more nuanced. Lydia, now 20, was trafficked as a child and had many rape videos posted on the site. “My stomach hurts all the time” from the tension, she told me, but she doesn’t want to come across as hostile to porn itself.

“I don’t want people to hear ‘No porn!’” Lydia told me. “It’s more like, ‘Stop hurting kids.’”

Susan Padron told me that she had assumed that pornography was consensual, until a boyfriend filmed her in a sex act when she was 15 and posted it on Pornhub. She has struggled since and believes that only people who have confirmed their identities should be allowed to post videos.

Jessica Shumway, who was trafficked and had a customer post a sex video on Pornhub, agrees: “They need to figure out who’s underage in the videos and that there’s consent from everybody in it.”

I asked Leo, 18, who had videos of himself posted on Pornhub when he was 14, what he suggested.

“That’s tough,” he said. “My solution would be to leave porn to professional production companies,” because they require proof of age and consent.

Right now, those companies can’t compete with mostly free sites like Pornhub and XVideos.

“Pornhub has already destroyed the business model for pay sites,” said Stoya, an adult film actress and writer. She, too, thinks all platforms — from YouTube to Pornhub — should require proof of consent to upload videos of private individuals.

Columnists are supposed to offer answers, but I struggle with solutions. If Pornhub curated videos more rigorously, the most offensive material might just move to the dark web or to websites in less regulated countries. Yet at least they would then not be normalized on a mainstream site.

More pressure and less impunity would help. We’re already seeing that limiting Section 230 immunity leads to better self-policing.



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