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The Global Push To Shut Down Pornhub Gains Traction

The world's biggest porn site is under fire over allegations of rape and child abuse in some videos, and a petition calling to have the website shut down has amassed more than 450 000 signatures.

Laila Mickelwait said her non-profit's appeal is not about being anti-porn, but rather putting an end to the trafficking and sexual abuse of children that she claims Pornhub is complicit in when it allows such videos to be uploaded onto its site.

American-based Mickelwait is the Director of women's rights group Exodus Cry, which launched the Change.org petition earlier this month. It has since been signed more than 300,000 times and she expects it to reach one million.

Since the website’s establishment in 2007, Pornhub is one of the most accessed pornography websites around the globe. When 10 daily searched "young girl" or "barely legal" on the website brings up hundreds of videos of girls with braces, pigtails and some who have no breasts or hips.

"'Teen porn' has been a top 10 searched term on Pornhub for years in a row," Mickelwait told 10 daily.

"When you look at the 'teen' genre what you will find is girls that look 13 at best, holding teddy bears and licking lollipops while they are being aggressively penetrated by older men."

According to the petition, videos of children being raped or sexualised can be uploaded onto Pornhub too easily without proper verification and checks in place. The porn website  gets 42 billion views a year.

"Today I spoke with the [British] Internet Watch Foundation that investigated and confirmed over 100 cases of children being sexually abused on Pornhub. Child sexual abuse is rampant on the website because they allow child abusers, traffickers and rapists to upload content instantly and anonymously," she said.

The petition mentions the case of a missing American teenager who was found by authorities late last year after sexually explicit videos of her were found on websites like Pornhub.

The girl’s alleged trafficker can be seen in the films allegedly raping the teenager, and in October police matched his appearance in some of the videos to CCTV footage taken at a convenience store.

Laila Mickelwait expects the petition will attract one million signatures. Image : Laila Mickelwait

"What all of this means is that at this very moment, there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of videos of underage sex trafficking victims on Pornhub. We already have evidence.

"It’s time to shut down super-predator site Pornhub."

The petition also highlights the case of the owners of adult websites GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys, who were charged with sex trafficking offences in the U.S. after they allegedly tricked more than 100 girls and women into appearing in porn videos that were shared on Pornhub.

But Pornhub told 10 daily that Internet Watch Foundation's discovery of 100 cases of children in their videos, amounts to significantly less than one percent of its content.

Roxana Amazing  Image: Pornhub

“While we – and the technology community as a whole – must continue to develop new methods to deter this behavior and rid the internet of CSAM, we feel strongly that the work our brands are doing is having a positive impact," Pornhub Vice President Blake White told 10 daily.

In a statement issued to British media, a Pornhub spokesperson said the site "eradicates and fights" any non-consensual or underage content.

“In the cases of [the missing American teenager] and GirlsDoPorn, the unauthorised, illegal videos were removed from our platform as soon as we were made aware of them, and Pornhub has been assisting law enforcement and legal counsel with both of these investigations.”

The spokesperson said Pornhub uses both machine learning and human monitoring to flag illegal content and prevent it from being published.

"These [methods] include but are not limited to Microsoft’s PhotoDNA, a technology that aids in finding and removing known images of child exploitation, as well as Vobile, a state-of-the-art fingerprinting software that scans any new uploads for potential matches to unauthorised materials to protect against any banned video being re-uploaded to the platform," the statement said.

Exodus Cry plans to hand-deliver the signatures and petition to government leaders in the U.S, Canada and also Luxembourg where the company has headquarters.

"We are gaining global traction... the momentum is building daily," Mickelwait said.

An additional statement from Pornhub:

"Pornhub has a steadfast commitment to eradicating and fighting any and all illegal content on the internet, including non-consensual content and child sexual abuse material. Any suggestion otherwise is categorically and factually inaccurate. While the wider tech community must continue to develop new methods to rid the internet of this horrific content, Pornhub is actively working to put in place state-of-the-art, comprehensive safeguards on its platform to combat this material.

We are actively working on expanding our safety measures and adding new features and products to our platform to this end, as they become available. Furthermore, Pornhub will continue to work with law enforcement efforts and child protection non-profits in the goal of eliminating any and all illegal content across the internet."

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au