What is MindGeek? PornHub's parent company sued for hosting rape videos of teen sex-trafficking victims

A multi-district litigation has been filed in the Northern district of Alabama at the center of which are two rape victims who were 14 and 16 at the time their videos made it to the website


                            What is MindGeek? PornHub's parent company sued for hosting rape videos of teen sex-trafficking victims
(Getty Images)
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A Federal mass tort litigation was filed against PornHub's parent company MindGeek on Friday. Court records allege that the Canadian company hosted countless rape videos of teen sex-trafficking victims and earned huge profits out of it by foregoing the verification of ages of the people featured in the videos and their consent. The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Alabama's Western Division at the center of which are two victims named Jane Doe #1 from Southern state and Jane Doe #2 from California, to protect their privacy. 

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In 2018, when Jane Doe #1 was just sixteen years old, she was drugged and raped by a man in Tuscaloosa, Alabama who filmed her abuse and rape. He later uploaded it to Modelhub, a subsidiary of MindGeek for “amateur” pornographers, said a New York Post report citing the official court documents. "MindGeek reviewed, categorized, tagged, and disseminated the images and videos depicting the rape and sexual exploitation of sixteen-year-old Jane Doe #1. One of the videos of Jane Doe #1 had been viewed over 2,400 times since MindGeek added it to its websites in early 2018," the complaint stated.

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A sign at the Pornhub booth is displayed at the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 18, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada (Getty Images)

“At no time did MindGeek or PornHub attempt to verify Jane Doe #1’s identity, age, inquire about her status as a victim of trafficking, or otherwise protect or warn against her traffickers before or while the video of her being drugged and raped was sold, downloaded, viewed and otherwise advertised on PornHub,” the complaint continued, adding there were two videos featuring Jane Doe #1 that were identified, out of which one had the title with the word “lil” to signify it depicted a kid. 

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Jane Doe #2 was 14 years old when she began being trafficked, the complaint read. She was forced to participate in the creation of sexually explicit videos that included adults raping her and these videos were later uploaded to a number of MindGeek controlled and owned websites including and not limited to PornHub and Redtube. Similar to Jane Doe #1's case, the company did not try to verify the age and consent of Jane Doe #2 and there are at least four videos of the then-minor victim, available to download and access for free and this continues to traumatize both of them on a daily basis. 

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The lawsuit also brought to the fore MindGeek's inadequacy to monitor the videos that are uploaded on its many sites each year. “Essentially, ‘moderators’ hired by MindGeek eyeball the performers in the video to see if they look young. If the performer is a child under the age of 12, it may be more likely that a moderator would flag that video or image,” the suit alleged. “However, if the performer is 15, 16, 17, the moderator may be less likely, and less inclined, to flag that video or image due to the ineffective system PornHub implemented," the complaint stated further.

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The suit said that the company maintains an "offshore 'moderation team' of around 10 individuals who are tasked with removing videos that depict child porn or other content like bestiality. “The ten individuals on the ‘moderation team’ were each tasked by MindGeek to review approximately 800-900 pornographic videos per 8-hour shift or about 100 videos per hour,” the suit alleged. “According to PornHub, there are approximately 18,000 videos uploaded daily, with an average length of approximately 11 minutes per video. Hence, each moderator is tasked with reviewing approximately 1,100 minutes of video each hour. This is an impossible task, and MindGeek knows that," the complaint stated further.

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The suit also stated that moderators cannot remove the videos/content that is flagged by website visitors and that the decision lies with a team leader who makes the call whether to delete or keep, a process that can take up to months. “There is an approximate backlog of five months between the time a video is reported by a user as ‘inappropriate’ and the time it is reviewed by a ‘team leader’ to determine whether it should be removed,” the complaint read. “Thus, for five months, such videos would sit on MindGeek’s sites, available for downloading and redistribution," the suit further stated.

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