This petition wants Pornhub to be shut down for good

A new petition is intending to get Pornhub shut down for good.

The petition, started by nonprofit group Exodus Cry, aims to eliminate Pornhub, which it calls a “super-predator site.” Exodus Cry aims to combat sex trafficking globally. Pointing to multiple cases of kidnapping and assault—videos of which have ended up on the site—the people at Exodus Cry say it’s time to hold Pornhub accountable. If the petition succeeds, it could see the end of one of the internet’s most popular porn sites.

The petition’s organizer, Laila Mickelwait, hopes that it will help hold Pornhub’s executives accountable. The director of abolition for Exodus Cry, she points to multiple recent cases in which minors have been hosted on the site. In one case, the petition links to a story about a missing 15-year-old girl. She was reportedly found a year after her disappearance thanks to videos uploaded to Pornhub and other sites.

Pointing to another case, in which 22 women successfully sued GirlsDoPorn, the petition pushes for the investigation of the CEO and COO of Mindgeek, the company that owns Pornhub. “Pornhub is complicit in the trafficking of these women and minors and probably thousands more like them,” the petition reads.

Videos can be uploaded onto Pornhub with undo ease, according to the petition. “All that is needed to upload pornography onto Pornhub is an email address,” the petition claims. “No government-issued ID is required, not even to become ‘verified’ with its trusty blue checkmark that makes everything seem a-OK.”

Mickelwait, in the petition, claimed that Pornhub all but admitted to granting the trafficked 15-year-old verified status on the site.

The petition goes on to lament the popularity of porn videos centered around teens. “Pornhub has no reliable system in place to verify that those in the videos it hosts are not trafficked children being raped on film in order to line the pockets of its executives,” it says.

Blake White, Pornhub VP, contests the facts and assertions made by the petition, telling the Daily Dot in an email: “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. These actions include a robust system for flagging, reviewing and removing all illegal material, employing an extensive team of human moderators dedicated to manually reviewing all uploads to the site, and using a variety of digital fingerprinting solutions. We use automated detection technologies such as YouTube’s CSAI Match and Microsoft’s PhotoDNA as added layers of protection to keep unauthorized content off the site. We also use Vobile, a state-of-the-art fingerprinting software that scans any new uploads for potential matches to unauthorized materials to protect against any banned video being re-uploaded to the platform. 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. The petition is not only factually wrong and intentionally misleading, it was created and is promoted by a radical rightwing fundamentalist group in the United States—a group who’s founders have long vilified and attacked LGBTQ communities and women’s rights groups, aligned themselves with hate groups, and espoused extremist and despicable language.”

The petition, which currently has nearly 270,000 of its requested 300,000 signatures, has been criticized by some people in the industry. Madita Oeming, a teacher at Universität Paderborn, noted her issues with the petition in a tweet. “I’m all for taking a critical look at PornHub, but this article & petition come from a religiously motivated Republican background that is instrumentalizing this case to push their ‘war on porn,’” she wrote. “They are coming for you, too.”

In a statement to MEA World Wide, Mickelwait noted that the petition is not aimed at “banning porn.”

“I am talking about shutting a multi-million dollar company down who is profiting off of the rape, sex trafficking and assault of women and children,” she said. “It is not an extreme point of view to think that the largest and most popular porn website in the world should not be allowed to cash in on the trauma, exploitation, and rape of women and children.”

In an interview with the Daily Dot, Mickelwait noted that there are those within the industry that support her work. She pointed to a supportive tweet from Jenna Jameson, sometimes called the “Queen of Porn.”

Mickelwait also noted that she believes Pornhub, as the “world’s largest purveyor of porn,” needs to be held accountable. “Mindgeek arguably has a monopoly on internet porn,” she said. “They must be held accountable for their actions and people must know what is taking place behind the facade of mainstream acceptability.”

This story has been updated.