‘Pornhub Cares’: The Evil Side of Philanthropy

Warde Bou Daher
Lebanese Psychologist
March 22, 2020
During a global epidemic, how are pornography sites attempting to double their profits under the pretext of charity?

Did you know that Pornhub, statistically the most viewed pornography website, has a charitable division? They call it: ‘Pornhub Cares’ .

On March 12, Pornhub announced on Twitter that it’s donating all proceeds from ‘Modelhub’, their clip site that is supposedly designed to support independent models, to send aid to Italy through the Coronavirus Pandemic for a month.

The website claims that it empowers the models to take control over and sell their own content.

Consequently, Modelhub is now offering their premium content to the citizens of Italy in order to ease their stay at home. On March 16, the same system was replicated to target porn viewers in France.

This is not the first time Pornhub incites their charitable division, as they often skip no opportunity to attract more traffic onto their website.

Pornhub Cares was launched in 2012 with the main objective of exploiting worldwide humanitarian or other causes to further promote their content. Their campaigns are mainly aimed at collecting donations from video views posted under a specific category on their website.

Their first campaign was called “Help Pornhub Save the Boobs”, aimed at supporting breast cancer research. Through it they donated 1 cent for every 30 videos viewed from two specific categories, generally relating to breasts. They repeated the campaign in 2015. Similarly, on Arbor Day in 2014, a day usually set aside to raise awareness about trees and their environmental significance, Pornhub planted a tree for every 100 video streams viewed in another particular category on their site.

They’ve also offered scholarships in the past, up to $25,000, in which applicants had to send a written submission answering the question: “How you do strive to make others happy?”, alongside a 2 to 5minute video submission in which one has to elaborate about their work or any other matter they cared about.

Pornhub Cares has even tackled domestic violence, as well as the importance of saving whales, and spaying animals. They supported the Movember movement, an event involving men growing moustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, as well as initiatives to save bees, and clean the ocean from plastic. In addition, they’ve curated their pornography with special features to make it accessible for visitors who have visual or hearing impairments.

This begs the question, how are charities and human rights organizations responding to this?

Many organizations have been combating these actions; this includes Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer foundation in the U.S., which rejected a $75,000 donation from Pornhub. Moreover, the organization who accepted the donation collected on Arbor Day, seem ashamed, refusing to admit it publicly.

In 2012, The National Centre on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), held a campaign to stop scholarships offered by Pornhub. They claimed that such competition fuels the economic exploitation of vulnerable young people and reinforces the normalization of an industry that’s harmful to both “performers” and viewers.

According to SimilarWeb, based on internet traffic analysis, Pornhub is the 8th most visited website worldwide with 42 billion visits in 2019. In a study analysing 304 pornograhphy scenes, 88.2% of the videos contained physical aggression and 48.7% contained verbal aggression. Consequently, if you surf Pornhub’s website, you could clearly notice from the titles of the most viewed videos how they include abusive, extreme, and discriminatory scenes.

Several global and national studies have looked into the effects of pornography on human behaviour: when an observer experiences arousal while viewing violent content, he or she may link the harmful or aggressive content to a positive mind-set; then the viewer would begin to look for even more extreme content. This is exactly what drives addiction to pornography.

Porn can also inhibit a person’s instinctual discomfort with violent and harmful behaviour, and transform this instinct into a fondness instead. In June 2019, the Irish times published the complete trial of a 13-year-old boy who brutally raped and murdered his female classmate, Ana Kriegel. When investigating the contents of his phone, it was discovered that he had often searched for pornography which included the name of his victim, ‘Anastasia’. His phone also contained over 12 thousand porn images and internet searches for child pornography.

However, it’s not only the porn consumers who are negatively affected, but also the pornography performers working for and appearing on Pornhub. Pornhub was still profiting from “Girls Do Porn”, a company that posed as a modelling agency and co-owned by the convict Michael Pratt, until a few months ago. He has been in court several times for sex trafficking charges and for the production of child pornography. Many of the featured videos, which Pornhub viewed on their website, may have indeed featured sex trafficking victims. An ordinary porn consumer viewing these videos could not have known this unless he or she had done extensive research on the matter.

Another problematic factor is the word “teen” holding a high place in the most searched words on Pornhub, which exposes that viewers are often looking for a category that is dangerously close to child pornography. Although the site claims that there is a process of ID verification to be able to upload a video, and that no underage porn star is generally allowed to perform, in recent trials they were cornered into admitting that through flaws in tracking it is possible that minors have been featured on their website in the past.

In 2019, a 15-year-old girl who had been missing for a year in Florida was found after sexually explicit photos and videos of her appeared on Pornhub. On top of the enforced sexual activity, her kidnapper, later identified as Christopher Johnson, allegedly impregnated her and then forced her to abort her child. Throughout the horrifying kidnapping, Johnson filmed over 58 explicit videos of her, and posted them onto many sites such as Pornhub, Periscope and Snapchat. The 15-year-old girl was definitely not the only one.

In 2009, a girl who had been raped by three men at the age of 14 found a video of her traumatic experience on Pornhub. She spoke about the incident with BBC News in 2020, expressing that her videos had gained more than 400,000 views, even including the tag “teen” and other aggressive categories in the title and description. She had contacted Pornhub explaining that she was the assaulted minor in the videos, but got no replies. Later, when she emailed Pornhub posing as a lawyer and threatening to sue, the videos were finally taken down.

Since then, “Exodus Cry”, an organization committed to abolishing sexy trafficking and exploitation, launched a worldwide petition calling to: “Shut Down Pornhub and Hold Its Executives Accountable for Aiding Trafficking”, open for signatures on traffickinghub.com. The petition has since collected more than half a million signatures. It garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures for good reason: a company that benefits from sex-trafficking and spreads rape culture should be shut down, no matter how much it ‘Cares’.

These days, during this pandemic, such blatant sexual exploitation needs to be reacted to with more serious and effective responses.

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