After Exodus Cry Calls Attention to Exploitation, Pornhub Removes Videos

Exodus Cry is an anti-trafficking organization, one that has made significant strides in the prevention of sexual exploitation since its inception. The group’s latest milestone is against the world’s largest porn site. After digging into the everyday practices of Pornhub, the staff developed an internet-driven campaign dubbed Traffickinghub.

This led to a number of events, including action taken by the adult entertainment company, Pornhub. In late 2020, the site took down millions of videos that had not been verified. CEO and Founder of Exodus Cry, Benjamin Nolot, and Traffickinghub have been doing everything in their power to call attention to how Pornhub has knowingly profited off videos of rape, trafficking, child sexual abuse material, and other image-based abuse.

While hopefully just the beginning of something much larger, this is one of the most important actions that has ever been made against criminal porn. We’ll look at how it came to be and what’s still left to be done in the future.

13.5 Million to 4.7 Million

After intense pressure from a number of outside advocates, including Exodus Cry, Pornhub dropped its search tally from 13.5 million videos to 4.7 million videos. This 66% drop was precipitated by a number of high-profile people making their voices heard.

Media Support

This victory for Exodus Cry is one in a continuing fight. The good news is that their cause has been gaining more traction as of late, most notably when an anti-trafficking article came out in one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world.

Nicholas Kristof is a columnist at the New York Times who wrote an article about Pornhub and its questionable practices. In the investigation, originally published on December 4, 2020, his words would inspire both political and economic retribution for the website.

Allegations Against Pornhub

Pornhub sets standards for its videos in order to comply with the law. However, they use technicalities that allow them to skirt around regulations. For instance, users can still search for terms like “teen”, “young”, “child”, “toddler”, “middle schooler” and yield results. In times past, you could even find content uploaded that included young children being raped. The industry also allows for the depiction of children and teenagers.

Kristof was only writing about what Benjamin Nolot and Exodus Cry have been saying since February 2020. The videos on Pornhub repeatedly showed a variety of exploitative content, including rape and underage girls. This has been ongoing for a decade, and it’s become a well-known black mark against the industry as a whole.

This content has been posted and then reposted across the internet, with Pornhub doing very little (if anything at all) to stop it. When Traffickinghub was started, the cause garnered everything from celebrity endorsements to millions of signatures calling for Pornhub to be held accountable for its actions.

Recent Political Scrutiny

With so many other issues in the public eye right now, it takes a lot to get politicians in North America to shift their attention to anything else. However, this is exactly what occurred after the New York Times called out not just Pornhub for its complicit role in allowing the videos to be posted, but also its parent company MindGeek.

MindGeek is based in Canada, which is where Pornhub executives were called to testify. After going in front of Parliament in Ottawa, lawmakers in the country are now trying to create as much pressure as possible, so its leadership will be forced to change its ways.

In the US, Sens. Josh Hawley and Ben Sasse debuted a bill that would give victims more legal opportunities to sue sites like Pornhub. In many cases, photographs, clips, and full-length videos are distributed online without the person’s consent.

A Closer Look

In addition to the bill, Sasse has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take a fine-toothed comb to Pornhub. The article at the Times is certainly a good start, but there needs to be more done at a granular level.

His concern came down to a question of logistics: the sheer volume of content is simply unmanageable for any website to verify it all. With 2.8 hours of video added to the site every minute, it would be impossible for the staff to watch every second of the videos to ensure that nothing untoward or illegal was happening in them. Pornhub executives continue to insist that their videos do not violate the site’s terms and conditions, yet this is an empty promise in the face of reality.

In response to the accusations, the site has also decided to change its policies, even after saying that the site had not done anything wrong. Sasse was unsatisfied by this turn of events, which he believes underscores the need for a much larger investigation by the DOJ.

Economic Repercussions

Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, thrive off advertiser revenue, but the site also accepts payment for premium content. After the New York Times article, Discover, Visa, and Mastercard all took a stand against the website. Due to the unlawful materials that have been posted on Pornhub, all three credit companies have ceased payment processing to Pornhub.

Pointing Fingers

Pornhub has posted information on its website that upholds its policies in its current iteration. The site claims that its protocol is actually stricter than other platforms. It goes on to put the blame on Exodus Cry and the National Center of Sexual Exploitation for its unfair targeting.

Yet Exodus Cry has done no such thing. Their efforts have been rooted in freedom for the people on the site. The issue is much more about exploitation and power than it is about sin. There is no shame for victims here, only the support they need to reclaim their lives.

Non-Religious, Non-Partisan

Benjamin Nolot has done a lot to speak out against trafficking and offer a helping hand to victims. After he created a documentary called Nefarious: Merchant of Souls that uncovers the underbelly of this seedy black market, he expanded his reach with Exodus Cry.

Its Traffickinghub campaign, founded by Laila Micklewait, is not a religious effort though. It’s a way to call attention to Pornhub and what it’s really doing to fund its enterprise. While the site might not produce exploitative content, it’s certainly profiting off of it.

This initiative not only asks people to take a side against human trafficking, it also features real stories and statistics to drive the point home. Teenage victims are fighting to have their rapes taken down from the site, and their struggle deserves to be heard. Exodus Cry has created a platform that promotes apologies and restitution for the people who need it the most.

A Reckoning for the Ages

Scrubbing millions of videos from a site might be a step in the right direction, but it could never be considered justice for those exploited. Exodus Cry has spoken out against the company’s decisions, saying that this can’t absolve them of 10 years of harm that they’ve caused. When trauma is captured on film and held aloft for profits, there stands to be a reckoning for the perpetrators.

Exploitation in the porn industry is unfortunately nothing new, but the fight against it is starting to gain momentum. In many ways, this is different from efforts that have been made in the past. This is because we’re seeing the issue from a different lens.

Part of the reason why more people are taking notice and doing more is due to groups like Exodus Cry. The individuals in this organization fight against trafficking in its many forms, not for fame or fortune, but as a way to affect change around the world. This group has praised the many journalists, celebrities, and supporters who have spoken up for what’s right. Whether it’s Kristof penning a powerful article read by millions or a petition signer who pens their own name, every bit counts.

Exodus Cry is encouraged by Pornhub’s acquiescence in taking down the videos but believes that real justice will mean shutting the site down entirely. Real reparations will also lead to the criminal conviction of the executives.

The people at the top of the pyramid share a real responsibility in how victims have been treated for so long. They may staunchly deny having a hand in acts like rape and exploitation, but this is nothing more than a smokescreen. As Benjamin Nolot and Exodus Cry forge ahead, it’s clear that they will continue to draw attention away from distractions, so everyone can focus on who is really being affected.

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