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The underage guessing game

Pornhub’s meagre team of moderators often just guess at who is being raped

Artillery Row

“We had videos that were very underage being approved. I know a few of the people who approved such videos”, George*, a Pornhub whistleblower told me. When George reached out to me he was working in the Pornhub moderating office in Cyprus, where a very small team of overworked, underpaid, moderators sat for hours at a time fast forwarding through up to 1200 user-generated hardcore sex videos per eight hour shift. Too many of the videos that passed through that office and onto the world’s most popular porn site have been real child rape, criminal image based abuse, and sex trafficking crime scenes.

The documents showed some of MindGeek’s porn tube sites had only three moderators per shift for the millions of videos

“One of hundreds of pieces of evidence of sexual abuse I personally gathered from Pornhub and delivered to law enforcement included an account made by a man in New Jersey who would prey on homeless black teens and film himself anally raping them for a place to stay. Their crying, screams and protests were clearly audible in poor quality obviously homemade videos. The titles of the videos included the phrases “Teen screams while getting fucked in the ass”,  “Dumb Teen Assfuck for a place to stay”, “Teen Runaway Assfuck for A Place to Stay” “First Time Anal She Screams it Hurts”, “I Don’t Care if Your Ass Hurts”, and the tags “screaming anal”, “homeless teen”, “homeless girl”, “teen runaway anal”, and “stop my ass hurts”.

Pornhub, a website exclusively designed to mass distribute real hardcore sex acts to 130 million visitors per day, and with enough pornographic content uploaded per year that it would take 169 years to watch, employed under 10 moderators per shift. By way of contrast, Facebook which is not a porn site and per its terms of service prohibits pornographic content, employs 15,000 moderators to review content as well as uses AI technology to automatically detect and remove all sexually explicit imagery.

George sent me internal company documents that revealed Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek (the owner of the majority of the world’s largest porn sites) had only 30-31 people working per day to monitor all of the tens of millions of pieces of content on all of their major user generated porn tube including Pornhub, Redtube, YouPorn, Xtube, Tube8 and more. In fact, the documents showed some of MindGeek’s porn tube sites had only three moderators per shift for the millions of videos, images and comments uploaded every year.

What George revealed was that essentially Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, were playing a game of Russian Roulette with people’s lives. Pornhub did not reliably verify the age or the consent of those in the millions of sex videos on the site. Instead, George and the meagre team of moderators often just guessed at who was being raped, and who was having rough sex; who was an underage teen and who was not; who was being coerced and trafficked, and who was there voluntarily. The consequences are countless victims whose lives have been destroyed.

George said he would sometimes look at whether an underage appearing girl’s nails were painted as an indicator of whether or not the video was a child pornography crime scene. In far too many cases moderators guessed wrong. Thirteen year olds also paint their nails after all.

The meagre team of moderators often just guessed at who was being raped

Even worse than the guessing game however, is the knowledge that MindGeek executives, using fake names, have continued to insist to the public that their “extensive team” of human moderators viewed and approved every single video uploaded to the site. If that is indeed true, the complicity of Pornhub in these mass sexual crimes goes much deeper than anyone imagined. Videos have been on the site of young looking teens include tags and titles such as “CP” (child pornography), “middle schoolers” and “Not 18”. Videos of obviously pre-pubescent children being anally raped while screaming were approved by Pornhub. Videos of naked, drugged, clearly unconscious young women being violently sexually assaulted were approved by Pornhub. Spycam videos of teen’s genitals using tiny cameras planted inside prom bathroom toilets were approved by Pornhub.

According to Pornhub’s own statements, this means they viewed, approved, and monetised countless videos of obvious child sexual abuse, blatant real rapes, spy cam videos of non-consenting women, and more. By any reasonable person’s definition, that should be called complicity. 

One Pornhub moderator said they were instructed to let as much content go through as possible regardless of its legality. Why? Because content is king when it comes to porn tube sites. More content equals more traffic, equals more money and Pornhub makes lots of it. Another Pornhub whistleblower said that Pornhub’s main concern was to not get caught. Well they got caught. Now Pornhub’s victims are demanding they pay.

*Pseudonym used to protect privacy

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