In February of 2020, Laila Mickelwait, who was Exodus Cry’s Director of Abolition at the time, published an op-ed in the Washington Examiner titled “Time to Shut Pornhub Down.” It exposed the overt “child porn” (child sexual abuse material), revenge porn, rape, and trafficking videos that were hosted on Pornhub, the “world’s biggest porn site.” The op-ed sparked outrage and people began demanding a petition to shut down Pornhub.
The petition Laila Mickelwait launched and its accompanying campaign, Traffickinghub, went viral. Throughout 2020, Exodus Cry helped to advance the growing movement.
Our animated video on it racked up 34 million views and was shared by celebrities, the petition received 2.2 million signatures from people in 192 countries, and the story—penned by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nicholas Kristof—was featured on the front page of The New York Times.
After The New York Times released its scathing exposé “The Children of Pornhub,” the site quickly deleted 80% of their content overnight—about 10 million videos!
Visa, Mastercard, and Discover all immediately cut ties with the site. Other major porn tube sites began to follow suit, deleting suspect videos in attempts to avoid the public shame Pornhub has endured. Pornhub and parent company MindGeek (who nearly monopolized the online porn landscape) are now being sued by 191 victims in 7 lawsuits for over $1 billion.
Recently, Pornhub’s CEO and COO stepped down after having led the company for the past decade, amidst rumors of mass layoffs at MindGeek.
Without a doubt, the once celebrated brand of Pornhub has been irreparably tarnished and this is massively changing the landscape of porn distribution.
In a relatively short amount of time Traffickinghub has made enormous progress thanks to the work and participation of the millions involved. In January 2020, Pornhub was the largest and most popular porn website in the world, the 10th most visited website across the Internet (more than Netflix, Amazon, or Yahoo), and the third most influential tech company in society only surpassed by Facebook and Google.
By January 2021, Pornhub had deleted 80% of the site totaling 10 million videos, lost all payment processing (Mastercard, Visa, Discover and PayPal), upended its business model, and is now a global pariah—facing 7 major lawsuits and under investigation by multiple governments for child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other illegal activity.
Traffickinghub has been endorsed by over 300 anti-trafficking, women’s rights, and child protection organizations around the world. It has become a decentralized global movement of individuals, survivors, organizations, and advocates from across a broad spectrum of political, faith and non-faith, economic, and ideological backgrounds, all uniting together for the single purpose of shutting down Pornhub and holding its executives accountable for enabling, distributing, and profiting from rape, child abuse, sex trafficking, and other criminal image-based sexual abuse.
“With Pornhub, we have Jeffrey Epstein times 1,000.” – Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
August 2019 – 22 Women Win $13 Million in Lawsuit Against GirlsDoPorn for Trafficking
Website owners Michael Pratt and Matthew Wolfe posted fake, fully-clothed modeling jobs on Craigslist, luring women into a recruitment scheme to produce amateur pornography.
The women were flown to San Diego and coerced into shooting porn scenes, being warned that they could be sued for the cost of the flight and hotel if they didn’t participate.
Soon after being pressured into signing a contract, completing the videos, and being assured the content would never be posted online, the videos appeared across several online platforms, including the world’s largest porn site, Pornhub. Not only was the content posted online, but each woman’s personal identifying information was also posted.
October 23, 2019 – Missing 15-year-old Girl Found After 58 Videos of Her Rape Were Discovered on Pornhub
After a 15-year-old girl was missing for nearly a year, her mother found pornographic videos of her missing daughter posted on sites like Pornhub, Periscope, Modelhub, and Snapchat, and alerted authorities. The man featured in many of the videos, 30-year-old Christopher Johnson, was charged with a felony charge of lewd or lascivious battery on a victim between 12 and 16.
Authorities discovered that the girl was a trafficking victim and was featured in around 58 videos on Pornhub alone. Pornhub’s official Twitter account posted that she was a “verified model with valid ID,” however the tweet was quickly taken down after they realized they had admitted complicity.
October 2019 – GirlsDoPorn Channel Removed from Pornhub Following the Federal Indictments
November 1, 2019 – Exodus Cry and Director of Abolition Begin Calling for Pornhub to be Shutdown
Exodus Cry and Exodus Cry’s Director of Abolition, at the time, Laila Mickelwait, begin exposing Pornhub’s exploitative nature and concerning content available on the platform. This growing concern helped lay the foundation of what would later become the Traffickinghub movement.
November 3, 2019 – The Sunday Times Publishes an Investigation into Pornhub
An investigation by The Sunday Times found that Pornhub has “hosted indecent images of children as young as three. The website says it bans content showing under-18s and removes it swiftly. But some of the videos identified by this newspaper’s investigation had 350,000 views and had been on the platform for more than three years.”
November 13, 2019 – PayPal Cuts Ties with Pornhub
Payment processor, PayPal, cut ties with the porn site with no warning. According to its Terms of Service, PayPal “prohibits all account holders from buying or selling sexually oriented digital goods, including downloadable pictures or videos, subscriptions to websites, or other content delivered through a digital medium.”
January 12, 2020 – Tweet of Pornhub’s #4 Most Watched Video Goes Viral
Exodus Cry’s Director of Abolition tweeted Pornhub’s #4 most watched video, highlighting the violence against women prevalent in porn. At the time, the video had 4 million views and featured a teen girl with her hands and feet shackled down, gagged and abused with various objects, including being electrocuted and her body being burned with wax. This tweet went viral, sparking mass outrage towards Pornhub.
February 9, 2020 – Laila Mickelwait Published an Op Ed in the Washington Examiner Called “Time to Shut Pornhub Down”
Following the viral tweet, the opinion editorial piece, written by Laila Mickelwait, Exodus Cry’s Director of Abolition at the time, blows the whistle on Pornhub’s exploitative practices and exposes the ways in which the world’s largest porn site enables and profits from content featuring actual rape and sex trafficking.
February 10, 2020 – 14-Year-Old Girl’s Rape was Filmed and Found on Pornhub by Classmates, Report by BBC
The day after our op-ed was released, the BBC released a report on the rape and exploiation of a young girl whose abuse was uploaded to porn sites. In summer 2009, 14-year-old Rose Kalemba was raped over a period of 12 hours by two men while a third filmed the assault. Several months later, Kalemba stumbled upon links to videos of her abuse on Pornhub, shared by schoolmates on the social website, MySpace. At the time, one already had over 400,000 views, and they continued to rise. Her attackers uploaded 6 videos of her abuse to the site. She emailed Pornhub several times begging them to take the videos down, repeatedly informing them that she was a minor and that the videos depicted child sexual abuse, but she received no response and the videos remained live.
Only after posing as a lawyer and threatening to sue were the videos removed. However, these videos reappeared on other sites and many of the comments featured her real name, age and city where she lived. Because Pornhub and other sites allowed downloading (they removed their download button after Traffickinghub gained global visibility), there is no way of knowing where all of her videos have ended up or who has seen the worst moments of her life.
February 12, 2020 – Laila Mickelwait Created a Petition Through Change.org that Went Viral.
The Washington Examiner op-ed and the BBC report sparked international outrage and was covered by outlets worldwide. A petition was launched calling for Pornhub to be shut down and its executives held accountable. Exodus Cry’s support of the petition helped it to continue growing. The campaign became known as Traffickinghub.
To date, the Traffickinghub petition has been signed by people from 192 countries and the movement is supported by over 300 child protection and anti-trafficking organizations as well as hundreds of survivors. In total, the petition, now transferred onto another platform, has reached 2 million signatures.
The petition exposes the fact that 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.
June 9, 2020 – Traffickinghub Petition Reaches 1 Million Signatures
June 30, 2020 – Exodus Cry’s Animated Video, “Pornhub Exposed as #Traffickinghub” Goes Viral
This short animated video exposes the horrific suffering of countless victims whose rape and trafficking was posted on Pornhub. The video went viral, amassing 34 million views across social media platforms and was shared by multiple celebrities.
July 17, 2020 – Nine People from “Czech Casting” Charged with Sex Trafficking
Nine people from the “Czech Casting” channel owned by NETLOOK, the largest producer of pornography in the Czech Republic, were charged on July 17, 2020 with human trafficking, sexual coercion, and rape. According to Czech police, the company had been using fake professional modeling ads to lure young women to porn shoots since 2013.
The videos produced from this criminal scheme were uploaded onto “Czech Casting” Channel, which is part of the Czech Authentic Video Network on Pornhub—it boasts nearly 1 BILLION monetized views across their channels.
August 28, 2020 – Traffickinghub Petition Reaches 2 Million Signatures
October 2, 2020 – Protests Against Pornhub in Los Angeles, Montreal and London
Large protests were held outside of Pornhub and MindGeek offices in Los Angeles, Montreal and London from 11 am to 2 pm on the International Day of Nonviolence October 2, 2021. The protests demanded that MindGeek and its companies be held accountable for sex trafficking and sexual exploitation on their websites.
December 4, 2020 – New York Times Article, “Children of Pornhub” Exposes Pornhub
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof publishes an article in The New York Times asking the question, “Why does Canada allow this company to profit off videos of exploitation and assault?” He details case after case of unconsenting young girls who are struggling to survive under the weight of mainstream exposure to their naked bodies.
December 8, 2020 – Pornhub Removes the “Download” Button
Pornhub has conceded to making major changes to how the site operates—a significant “win” for the global Traffickinghub movement. Traffickinghub followers publicly demanded that Pornhub remove its infamous “download” button, and now the site has removed the feature, stating that they have “banned downloads.” Additionally, they now only allow videos to be uploaded by verified users, essentially changing the entire business model of the site in accordance with the four demands that Kristof made in his article.
December 10, 2020 – Mastercard and Visa Halt Payments on Pornhub
Mastercard said it was permanently ending the use of its cards on the sex videos site after its investigation confirmed the presence of illegal content on the platform. Visa said it was suspending payments till an investigation was completed.
December 14, 2020 – Pornhub Removes 10 Million Videos, 80% of its Content
The site originally hosted more than 13.5 million videos, now down to 2.9 million. The 10 million videos came from unverified accounts and the company blamed Exodus Cry and the Traffickinghub campaign as the reason for the move.
December 15, 2020 – MindGeek Sued for $40 Million by 50 Women
In a related GirlsDoPorn case, in December 2020, a lawsuit on behalf of 50 women was filed against MindGeek (Pornhub’s parent company) for allegedly knowingly profiting from images and videos of their sex trafficking nightmares and failing to properly moderate sites owned by MindGeek for the abusive videos.
RELATED: How Pornhub Makes Trafficking Easy
The women sued MindGeek for $40 million plus any profit made from the videos featured on GirlsDoPorn and Pornhub. The federal complaint alleges MindGeek was aware of the sex trafficking venture as early as 2009 because victims sent MindGeek complaints detailing the site operators’ activities.
December 17, 2020 – XHamster Starts Deleting Content, Removes “Download” Button
A major competitor to Pornhub, xHamster, has begun to implement significant changes to their website, shifting their entire business model in very similar steps to Pornhub. The changes include:
– Removing the “download” button
– Deleting huge numbers of unverified content from the website
– Disallowing anonymous uploaders to upload content to the site
XHamster is also being investigated for the hosting of real rape, trafficking, revenge porn and child exploitation while being sued by the victims of these crimes.
December 23, 2020 – Visa Resumes Processing Payments On Some MindGeek Sites But Maintains Freeze On Pornhub
Two weeks after the credit card company cut off MindGeek in the wake of the New York Times article, the company announced that it would resume payments on websites owned by MindGeek, Pornhub’s parent company.
February 1, 2021 – The Canadian House of Commons Ethics Committee (ETHI) launches their investigation into MindGeek
The Canadian House of Commons Ethics Committee (ETHI) launched an investigation into MindGeek for reportedly hosting videos of child sexual abuse, rape, sex-trafficking, and nonconsensually distributed content.
February 5, 2021 – MindGeek Executives Testify Before Ethics Committee
MindGeek executives, David Marmorstein Tassillo and Feras Antoon, testified in front of Canada’s federal ethics committee over allegations of child pornography hosted on their flagship website, Pornhub. The executives seemingly stated multiple mischaracterizations, falsehoods, and lies of omission about their business practices and history of hosting nonconsensual content.
March 2021 – 70 Canadian Members of Parliament and Senators Demand Police Investigate Pornhub
70 Canadian members of Parliament and Senators from all political parties sent a letter to the Canadian Police, demanding for a full criminal investigation of Pornhub and MindGeek.
April 2, 2021 – Pornhub Transparency Report is Released
The first-ever transparency report revealed that it removed 653,465 pieces of content that violated its Terms of Service in 2020. The 653,465 pieces of potentially infringing content violated its Terms of Service and other site guidelines in 2020. (This number is separate from the 10 million videos that were removed from the site uploaded by unverified accounts.)
Pornhub considers content depicting minors, nonconsensual content, hate speech, animal harm, incest, bodily fluids like blood and feces, and violent content to be infringing. The report also detailed the moderation efforts the site employs, but still did not disclose how many moderators there are.
April 8, 2021 – Traffickinghub Founder Exposes Pornhub During US Congressional Briefing
Traffickinghub founder Laila Mickelwait presented evidence of Pornhub’s monetization of exploitation for 70 members of Congress and their staff, as well as over 2,000 registrants, including law enforcement, lawyers, journalists, and members of the general public.
April 14, 2021 – Mastercard Announces New Measures to Prevent Illegal Content on Porn Sites, Now Requires Age and Consent Verification on Porn Sites
Mastercard announced that banks who process payments of adult content will now have to ensure that sellers require “clear, unambiguous and documented consent” for all of their content.”
According to their official statement, Mastercard asserts:
“The banks that connect merchants to our network will need to certify that the seller of adult content has effective controls in place to monitor, block and, where necessary, take down all illegal content.
Other updated requirements include:
– Documented age and identity verification for all people depicted and those uploading the content
– Content review process prior to publication
– Complaint resolution process that addresses illegal or non consensual content within seven business days
– Appeals process allowing for any person depicted to request their content be removed”
April 25, 2021 – Pornhub Hit with $500 Million Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Victims
April 25, 2021 – Mansion Belonging to Pornhub Co-Owner, Feras Antoon, Burns Down in Suspected Arson
PornHub co-owner Feras Antoon’s $19 million Montreal mansion burned down the night of Sunday, April 25, 202 in what authorities assume to be arson. Police received a call late Sunday night that two people were believed to be trespassing. When police arrived at the scene, the mansion was on fire but firefighters say no one was hurt in the blaze.
May 5, 2021 – MindGeek Tries to Sell Pornhub
Business Insider reported that MindGeek, Pornhub’s parent company, is discussing the possibility of selling the world’s biggest porn site to an investor group led by Chuck Rifci, “The Godfather of Canadian Weed.”
May 19, 2021 – 762 NGOs and Survivors Send Letter to US Senators and Reps Demanding DOJ/FBI Investigation of Pornhub
630 NGOs and 132 survivors of sexual expliotation to US Senators and Representatives. This letter follows last month’s US congressional briefing, during which survivors and anti-trafficking experts laid out overwhelming evidence of MindGeek’s crimes.
The letter reads:
“It is urgent that Congress demand that law enforcement agencies investigate MIndGeek as the pace setter in what amounts to a massive criminal enterprise. MindGeek, which owns Pornhub and at least 160 other hardcore pornography websites, serves as a case study of corporate indifference regarding harm caused to women and children and its platform…it is clear that MIndGeek has violated federal sex traffciking and child protection laws, particularly child pornography distribution and reporting laws.”
May 26, 2021 – Wife of Billionaire Bernd Bergmair, a Majority Owner of MindGeek, Pushes Husband to Cut Ties
It was recently revealed by Tortoise media that billionaire Bernd Bergmair is a majority owner of MindGeek and has managed to escape scrutiny over the company’s actions by maintaining a low profile. However, his wife, a Brazilian model, spoke out against the exploitation, sharing she wishes her husband would cut ties with the company.
June 3, 2021 – Largest US Cable TV Company, Comcast, Cut Ties with Pornhub/MindGeek
Comcast officially cut ties with Pornhub and Mindgeek. All MindGeek material has already been removed from Comcast’s cable systems, which serve 20 million pay TV subscribers. According to NCOSE, a Comcast representative shared that they were deeply concerned over the growing number of reports against MindGeek for unlawful business practices, including minors being exploited on their sites.
June 15, 2021 – GirlsDoPorn Trafficker, Ruben Andre Garcia, Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison
Adult film actor Ruben Andre Garcia has been sentences to 20 years in prison for his role in trafficking young women into pornography. During his sentencing hearing, Garcia also gave an apology in which he called the porn industry an “evil business.”
June 17, 2021 – ETHI Committee Releases a Report Recommending Federal Changes
The Canadian House of Commons Ethics Committee released a report after several hearings recommending that the federal government strengthen laws to curb the spread of child sexual exploitation material and rape videos online. The report includes 14 recommendations for the federal government, urging the government to explore a “means to hold online platforms liable” for failing to stop illegal content from appearing on their websites.
June 17, 2021 – 34 More Survivors of Trafficking and Abuse on Pornhub File Suit
The lawsuit alleges that the site knowingly profited from videos depicting rape, child sexual exploitation, trafficking, and other nonconsensual sexual content. Here’s a link to the full lawsuit complaint. Out of 34 plaintiffs, 14 say they were victims of underage sex trafficking. The plaintiffs come from various US states, as well as the UK and Thailand.
July 6, 2021 – Porn Site XTube Shutting Down
After 13 years, XTube announced it will be shutting down on September 5, 2021. The site was one of the first adult porn sites to allow users to upload and share pornographic videos. In their official statement, the company announced that the upload function has been disabled and all subscriptions have been canceled. They did not mention a reason for the shutdown but it is assumed it is due to the allegations against their parent company, MindGeek.
However, in their statement, they tell subscribers, “If you want to continue uploading content to our other platforms, please consider joining Pornhub or MyDirtyHobby.”
July 28, 2021 – Pornhub and XHamster Set to be Banned in Germany
Germany is set to block Pornhub and xHamster in an effort to make all pornographic websites in Germany implement age verification for users. The initial phase targets four major pornography websites – XHamster, Pornhub, YouPorn and MyDirtyHobby.
October 15, 2021 – After Traffickinghub Pressure, Mastercard Enacts Policies to Eliminate Porn of Trafficking, Rape, Child Abuse
Mastercard will now require robust age verification and documented consent for all porn sites globally. This will compel banks to ensure the legitimate consent practices of their merchants before processing any payments.
It is important to understand that Mastercard is not banning porn from their network. They are willing to work with companies that uphold their very reasonable requirements. They are calling for the verification of the age and consent of every person featured in pornographic content, and a robust process to be in place for illegal content to be taken down quickly.
November 4, 2021 – Roku Bans Pornhub After Massive Pressure from Our Followers and Allies
In March, Exodus Cry publicly called out Roku, the US’ number one TV streaming platform, for hosting a private channel for Pornhub. In the beginning of November, Roku announced they would ban not only Pornhub but also all other porn channels from their platform, effective March 2022.
Movieguide wrote an article about Roku’s decision and, sharing our celebratory Instagram post, they stated, “The change comes in part due to added pressure from advocacy groups such as Exodus Cry.”
June 20, 2022 – The New Yorker Publishes Article Called, “The Fight to Hold Pornhub Accountable”
A New Yorker article titled, “The Fight to Hold Pornhub Accountable,” exposed Pornhub for hosting sexually explicit nonconsensual videos including those with children.
June 21, 2022 – Pornhub CEO and COO Resign
Following two years of public scrutiny, the CEO, Feras Antoon, and COO, David Tasillo, of Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, have officially resigned after 10 years with the company.
June 22, 2022 – Pornhub Lays off Hundreds of Employees
Ex-staffers claim the company is dramatically downsizing. After the announcement that Pornhub’s CEO and COO have resigned, The Globe and Mail reported that Pornhub would lay off “a number of its staff, in an attempt to cut costs after suffering revenue declines over the past 18 months following a series of revelations that MindGeek had allowed child sexual abuse material and other nonconsenual videos to be posted on Pornhub.”
One employee shared, anonymously, “They just fired 70% of the company. VPs, managers, engineers, etc. Ceo was changed. Only a skeleton crew is left on [Pornhub] and TrafficJunky.”
July 26, 2022 – GirlsDoPorn Operator Pleads Guilty in Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
The guilty plea by Matthew Isaac Wolfe comes after 22 women testifed to being tricked and coerced by producers into making internet pornography for a website called GirlsDoPorn from 2099 to 2020. The channel was one of the biggest and most popular channels on Pornhub with nearly 800,000 subscribers and over 600 million views.
July 29, 2022 – Judge Finds Visa ‘Intended to Help’ Pornhub and Its Parent Company Monetize Child Porn
On Friday, July 29, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California issued a decision in the Fleites v. MindGeek case, denying Visa’s motion to dismiss the claim it violated California’s Unfair Competition Law — which prohibits unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts and practices — by processing payments for child porn. In the ruling, Carney held that the plaintiff “adequately alleged” that Visa engaged in a criminal conspiracy with MindGeek to monetize child pornography.
August 4, 2022 – Visa Cuts Off Ability to Buy Pornhub Ads After Court Ruling in Child Porn Case
Visa and Mastercard said they are suspending payment privileges of TrafficJunky, the advertising arm of online porn network operator MindGeek.
Mastercard’s official statement:
“New facts from last week’s court ruling made us aware of advertising revenue outside of our view that appears to provide Pornhub with indirect funding. This step will further enforce our December 2020 decision to terminate the use of our products on that site.”