Who Is Pornhub? Exposing Porn’s Puppet Master

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There is a shadowy name hovering over the internet today, and you’ve probably never even heard of them.

Pornhub, although the largest and arguably most recognizable porn website, is just a subsidiary of a much larger company called MindGeek (formally Manwin). MindGeek is a Montreal-based IT company established over a decade ago by student programmers from Concordia University—Stephane Manos and Ouissam Youssef.

MindGeek describes themselves as “leaders in design, development, marketing, SEO, and management of highly trafficked websites.” A visit to their website would appear as if you’re visiting a successful technology-based company with a global footprint. As you dig deeper however, this seems more facade than reality.

At its core, MindGeek is a porn company. Let me rephrase, MindGeek is THE porn company. They are the controlling entity behind the biggest and highest trafficked porn sites today. Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn, PornMD, PornIQ, GayTube, Tube8, XTube, Brazzers, Reality Kings, are just A FEW of the long list of sites MindGeek controls.

Over the years, MindGeek amassed a small army of failing sites to create their own online porn empire. All told, Mindgeek has involvement with over 100 different sites.1 This type of control is highly regulated in other industries but, of course, this is the porn industry.

When attempting to quantify their influence on the online porn industry, the word “monopoly” has come up more than a few times. In 2013, the adult industry news website XBIZ described MindGeek as “the largest adult entertainment operator globally.”2

They currently generate more traffic than Amazon, Facebook, or Twitter, and trail only Google and Netflix in terms of bandwidth consumed. They are massive, and have turned free streaming porn and porn advertising into essentially a one-man game. MindGeek’s organizational structure is also very complex, with an elaborate system of companies sprinkled all over the world including Cypress and Luxembourg, known tax havens.

The site allows users to upload their own content, and therein lies the HUGE, maybe criminal problem… MindGeek doesn’t regulate the types of videos being uploaded and often allows content that is illegal or stolen.

MindGeek has also become synonymous with controversy. The company, which previously operated under the names Mansef and Manwin, had trouble in 2009 when the Secret Service seized $6.4 million in funds from two fidelity bank accounts controlled by Mansef, with Feds accusing the syndicate of money laundering; and in 2012, its then-owner Fabian Thylmann, a young German programmer once hailed as the Mark Zuckerberg of porn, was arrested on charges of tax evasion.3 Thylmann’s legal troubles led to the sale of the company that is now controlled by Feras Antoon and David Marmorstein Tassillo.

RELATED: A Survivor of Teen Porn Trafficking Speaks Out on Pornhub

With Pornhub, MindGeek essentially created the YouTube of porn. The site allows users to upload their own content, and therein lies the HUGE, maybe criminal problem. They do so with little to no regulation. MindGeek doesn’t regulate the types of videos being uploaded and often allows content that is illegal or stolen. To upload a video, you don’t need an ID or background check—just provide an email address and you’re in.

Now Pornhub claims to have strict rules around the type of content they allow, and claim to forbid illegal and underage content. But tell that to Rose Kalemba who, in 2009, discovered her rape as a 14-year-old broadcasted all over Pornhub. According to Kalemba, she pleaded with Pornhub to have the content removed for over six months, but her pleas were ignored.4 Meanwhile her rape at age 14 was viewed over 400,000 times.

Stories like Rose’s have become more and more common, including one from last October, when a missing 15-year-old girl was found in 58 adult videos posted on Pornhub, Snapchat, and Periscope.5

It appears MindGeek doesn’t care who’s uploading content. They also don’t bother to verify simple, legal details like age, if the sex and filming was consensual, or if the “performers” agreed to public exposure.

RELATED: Canadian Parliament Members Urge Govt. to Address Pornhub Concerns

Now one must ask, if MindGeek is such a legitimate technology company, with mass influence and power, why can’t they simply add the digital safeguards sites like YouTube and others do to protect their users?

According to the (British) Internet Watch Foundation, there are over 100 cases of children being sexually abused on Pornhub.

It may be because the real crime of MindGeek is that they are complicit in broadcasting sex trafficking and child rape across the internet, and therefore won’t restrict it. They don’t police themselves, fail to follow laws and—what’s worse—governments have yet to crack down on them.

They can play innocent, but then why does Pornhub allow video titles to be posted including the phrases “teen slapped,” and “innocent teen abused,” or “scared teen cries” without regulation or investigation? With titles like those floating around their site, MindGeek isn’t just ignorant or negligent—they’re accomplices.

In fact, According to the (British) Internet Watch Foundation, there are over 100 cases of children being sexually abused on Pornhub.6

Now MindGeek is in the news again. This time, in the case of 22 women who were deceived and coerced by Michael Pratt, owner of GirlsDoPorn, into performing sex acts on film that were subsequently uploaded to Pornhub. These women sued GirlsDoPorn and won a $12.7 million lawsuit against the company. Pornhub, of course, was a major distributor of GirlsDoPorn and even continued to host their criminal videos, months after the trial.

According to a federal indictment, Pratt and his co-conspirators produced child pornography and trafficked a minor. Pratt reportedly fled the United States for New Zealand and is currently wanted on a federal warrant. Now, according to cryptopolitan.com, Pratt is considered the ringleader of the sex ring, and Mindgeek CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Marmorstein Tassillo remain persons of interest in the case.7

MindGeek’s mystique is being exposed. And regardless of your personal opinion about porn, their activities have become criminal and they must be held accountable. To put it plainly, as long as they continue to operate, the world is a more dangerous place for women, teenagers, and children.

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  • 1. https://www.chronicsex.org/2018/03/mindgeek-terrible/
  • 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MindGeek
  • 3. https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-porn-has-gotten-so-rough
  • 4. https://www.breitbart.com/entertainment/2020/02/10/nolte-pornhub-under-fire-for-allegedly-hosting-rape-child-porn-videos/
  • 5. https://www.newsbreak.com/florida/sunrise/news/0NBMSbPq/15-year-old-girl-missing-for-a-year-spotted-in-58-adult-videos-on-pornhub-periscope-and-snapchat-by-mom
  • 6. https://10daily.com.au/news/world/a200227jordt/children-being-sexually-abused-the-new-global-push-to-shut-down-pornhub-20200227
  • 7. https://www.cryptopolitan.com/pornhub-pratt-sex-trafficking-close-site/amp/
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