Pornhub doesn’t care about sex workers, survivors or sustainability.

It has been little over a month since Pornhub removed millions of videos from its platform, following action from Mastercard and Visa who blocked transactions to the site. The move came days after The New York Times published its investigation ‘The Children of Pornhub, which alleged that Pornhub is “infested” with rape videos and prompted Mastercard to conduct their own investigation that confirmed the presence of “unlawful” content. Survivors and campaigners have been calling out Pornhub for its rape content for years, but the second credit card companies started to notice, they were quick to act.

Pornhub has been pedalling the narrative that they are the victim of porn abolitionists Exodus Cry, a Christian organisation whose anti-sex work stance has made them the frontrunner in Pornhub’s attempt to shift the conversation from the profit they have made off of human trafficking, child rape and revenge porn, to a group hell bent on shutting down the porn industry for good. It’s a defence that they’ve been building for some time and by side-lining their wilful ignorance Pornhub almost managed to convince the international press that their delete-all approach was a “crack down”, as opposed to the digital equivalent of wiping down a crime scene.

There is a significant difference between pornography and non-consensual content, in the same respect that there is a difference between sex and rape and Pornhub’s continued dismissal of its illegal content directly affects the legitimate work of those that legally use the platform. Pornhub does not care about sex workers or survivors, and by pitting the two against each other it has been perpetually backing away from taking any decisive action for quite some time.

The decision to remove the content of legitimate sex workers was entirely their own, their policy changes too little too late. After years of refusing to remove reported content from its website, accusing survivors of fabricating their stories and claiming to not have the “capacity” to remove content at the speed you would expect a billion-dollar company to be able to, millions of videos were taken down at the flick of a switch, adding sex workers to it’s list of acceptable collateral damage.

Their post-purge statement is an attempt to build their defence, positioning themselves against social media giants Facebook and Twitter, in a way that tries to paint Pornhub as the victim of an anti-porn conspiracy: “Pornhub is being targeted not because of our policies and how we compare to our peers, but because we are an adult content platform… Over the last three years, Facebook self-reported 84 million instances of child sexual abuse material. During that same period, the independent, third-party Internet Watch Foundation reported 118 incidents on Pornhub.”

They have yet to disclose the actual figure of how many videos relating to child sexual abuse have been reported on its site or indeed how many have been removed. Furthermore, their whataboutery outs the complete lack of care they have paid to the individuals whose trauma has been monetised by their website, many of whom are outspoken about the child sexual abuse material on Twitter and Facebook, which has recently been picked up by the press.

Now in the midst of two major lawsuits for hosting rape material on their website, the Pornhub PR machine is pushing its ‘Sexstainability’ campaign, which has gained enough press traction to dilute the news stream with stories about their supposed philanthropy. It’s perplexing to see testimony from survivors side by side with articles celebrating their ‘morality’.

American lawyer Michael Bowe put it perfectly on Monday, during Day 1 of the Pornhub discussions at the House of Commons ethics committee, he said that “Instead of acknowledging the problem and aggressively dealing with it, what it has aggressively done is conducted a gaslighting campaign in the media and social media to discredit victims and deflect from the issue, and blame it on other things.”

Pornhub doesn’t care about sustainability, but the narrative that they do is beneficial to offsetting the unavoidable fact that they profited from human trafficking, rape and child sexual assault. The campaign is being pushed by their self-described “philanthropy division” called Pornhub Cares, which has run campaigns covering sex education, social distancing but as of yet nothing to address the reparations they owe to the women and children whose trauma they have been monetising for years.

Writer and journalism student.