Big, throbbing changes might be coming for online porn websites, after new lawsuit against PornHub for non-consensual videos

Big, throbbing changes might be coming for online porn websites, after new lawsuit against PornHub for non-consensual videos

The Wild West era of internet porn may be coming to an end…

SexJune 18, 2021 By Will Brendza

The porn industry isn’t new to regulation. They’ve had laws and policies in place mandating things like actor consent, and requiring producers to verify the age of their actors before shooting, for a long time.

It’s pretty basic stuff for pros in the industry — not only do these rules protect underage and non-consenting actors from being exploited on screen, but it also protects filmmakers from the legal consequences of unknowingly spreading underage- or revenge-porn.

However, for sites like PornHub, consent and age verification are not so strictly regulated. Sure, they’ll retroactively take a video down once in a while if someone flags or complains about it enough. But, generally, users on these sites can upload whatever content they want, and there is no real requirement for proof of age or consent when they do so. As long as you’ve got an account, you can upload videos — no matter who is in them, or whether they agreed to be in them or not.

Which is naturally causing some issues. It’s exactly how women like “Isabella” ended up on the site. She was 17 when her boyfriend convinced her to make a nude video — and didn’t find out he’d uploaded it on the web until she was in college

“I didn’t know you did porn.” A friend of Isabella’s texted her out of the blue one day.

She found the link, watched the video and was almost instantly sick.

"Immediately, I knew it was me. I mean, my face, my outfit — immediately," she said. "My heart dropped into my stomach."

Thousands of people had viewed the video. It had been up for some time. And, of course, no one from PornHub had tried to reach out to her at any point in time to verify her age or if she’d agreed to the video being uploaded or even filmed in the first place.

Isabella’s story isn’t unique, either. She, along with 33 other women have all joined a lawsuit against MindGeek — the company that owns PornHub and over 100 other adult websites like RedTube and YouPorn. They allege that the entire business model of these sites is built upon funneling internet traffic to videos like Isabella’s.  A draft of the lawsuit alleges that MindGeek “embraced under-age, non-consensual, and pirated content in its business,” claiming the company "profited from content produced through human trafficking."

Those are some pretty heavy allegations. And, not surprisingly, MindGeek along with the folks at PornHub adamantly deny them.

"We are committed to eradicating illegal content," the company said in a statement to CBS News. "We have banned uploads from unverified users, eliminated downloads, expanded our moderation processes, and partnered with dozens of non-profit organizations around the world, steps that surpass those of any other major platform on the internet."

Indeed, this is not the first time that PornHub has come under fire for having underage content on their site. Last December there was a wave of anger about nonconsensual content, to the point that Visa and Mastercard blocked purchases on PornHub. The site responded with one of the most aggressive content purges in internet history — deleting over 80% of their online content.

They’ve been slowly rebuilding their library since then. But the lawyer representing these women says he’s been working on this case for over a year, now — meaning a lot of this is based on content posted during the pre-purge PornHub era.

"The online porn industry has essentially been the Red Light District of commerce," the lawyer, Michael Bowe, said. "This new industry of online porn, for the last 10 years, has been allowed by law enforcement, government entities, to operate by a different set of rules. Basically, no rules or oversight."

Bowe is hoping to change that.

Which means, that the Wild West days of uploading content to adult websites all willie-nillie might soon be over. If Bowe’s lawsuit is successful against PornHub it could set a new precedent that requires internet porn “actors” to be age verified and vetted for consent. It would effectively kill most amateur porn, and it would make uploading orgy videos an extremely convoluted ordeal.

It would change the content base of porn websites in dramatic ways. Which, might disappoint some users — but which would also, almost surely prevent a lot of girls from being exploited against their consent. So in the end, it's a sacrifice they'll just have to swallow.