Pornhub Faces Lawsuit From Alleged Child Sex Trafficking Survivor

A woman suing Pornhub over its alleged distribution of her childhood sexual abuse material has won a significant victory in her lawsuit against the pornography website’s parent company.

Judge Scott Coogler from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama certified a survivor of childhood sex trafficking and child sexual abuse material (CSAM) as the class representative in her lawsuit, Doe #1 et al v. MG Freesites et al.

The woman, an Alabama resident, appears in the lawsuit as “Jane Doe.”

“We’re gratified that the court has certified this class of victim-survivors and look forward to holding Pornhub and its related companies accountable for their actions,” Josh Hayes, partner at Prince Glover Hayes, said in a press release, speaking on behalf of the woman’s legal team. “This is a team effort and we’re grateful to all of the firms who are partnering with us to represent Jane Doe and the other survivors.”

“Jane Doe’s courage in representing the class ‘helps more vulnerable [child] victims come forward with their claims and potentially receive relief than might otherwise come forward individually,’” he added.   

The order granting the woman’s request for class certification notes that the defendants are “a network of related companies that own or operate several of the most-visited pornographic websites in the world, including www.Pornhub.com.”

Pornhub is a tube site, meaning much of the site’s content comes from individual users who create pornographic videos or images and upload them to Pornhub themselves, subject to Pornhub’s terms and conditions,” the order states. “But the content is not publicly available until defendants allow it to be so. Defendants actively review all content before it appears on their websites, create thumbnails, tags, and titles for that content, and determine which uploaded content will and will not appear on their websites.”

Pornhub and MindGeek also offer uploaders the opportunity to share in the sites’ advertising revenue through their Content Partner and ModelHub programs, the order says, and they monetize the pornographic content “by selling premium subscriptions and harvesting user data that they share with advertisers.”

Jane Doe is accusing Pornhub and MindGeek of creating a business model that “enables them to profit from sex trafficking ventures involving tens of thousands of children.” She’s also alleging that they have “received and distributed vast amounts of child sexual abuse material (‘CSAM’) on their pornography websites.”

She further argues that Pornhub edits the titles, tags, and keywords of its content to use words such as “young,” “teenager,” and “tiny teen,” leading to the proliferation of child sexual abuse material on their websites.

“For instance, plaintiff’s abuser—who has since been convicted of displaying obscene material depicting a minor and sexual abuse—filmed her engaging in sexual acts while she was still a minor and uploaded
the videos to Pornhub,” the order states. “The videos, one of which contained the diminutive term ‘Lil’ in the title, were publicly available for over two years, despite several take down requests, until law enforcement intervened.”

The suit comes after Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof accused Pornhub in a 2020 New York Times op-ed of monetizing “child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.”

Website rankers say the highly viewed porn website is the 10th most visited site in the world, according to Kristof, with 3.5 billion visits a month and profits from almost 3 billion ad impressions every day.

Following Kristof’s expose, most major credit card companies announced they would be blocking payments to Pornhub.

The pornography website did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.

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