The first shock was that her former boyfriend had filmed them having sex with each other. But the second shock was worse — he had uploaded the videos to the world’s leading free porn site.
The 24-year-old woman, an administrator from Derbyshire who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted her local police force in August last year after discovering that two leaked sex tapes had been posted on Pornhub by the man, whom she had dated for a year.
She found out after the man’s new partner sent her links to them on Snapchat and wrote: “You need to see this.” The videos, tagged with terms like “f****** my ex”, were allegedly viewed hundreds of times before being deleted.
Now Pornhub has been accused of contributing to the collapse of the investigation into the incident after police said it had failed to co-operate with requests for information. Pornhub claims it did not receive the emails. The case was closed last month due to a lack of evidence.
“When I watched the videos I felt sick,” the alleged victim said. “I knew straight away it was me. I felt dirty and ashamed, even though I had done nothing wrong. I thought I was in love with him at the time. I had no idea the videos had been filmed.”
Anyone can earn advertising revenue by uploading videos to Pornhub, with the most-watched clips racking up millions of views and top models generating tens of thousands of pounds.
Officers arrested a 28-year-old man last October, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it needed further evidence, including a statement from Pornhub, before making a charging decision.
Derbyshire constabulary tried to contact Pornhub, owned by the Luxembourg-based company MindGeek, and initially received an email containing “technical information” about the videos. But it did not provide further details requested by the CPS, police said.
“A second request for information, which was required by the CPS, was submitted by email to Pornhub in March 2019 and a further follow-up email sent in April. There was no reply,” police said.
Kate Isaacs, from the campaign group #NotYourPorn, said: “It should be mandatory for porn websites to co-operate with the police to provide justice for those who have suffered sexual abuse and had it broadcast on their platform.”
The CPS said it was unable to make progress in the case because of a lack of “crucial” evidence, including information about “who, when and how the material was uploaded”. A spokesman added that pursuing Pornhub was “not the only possible line of inquiry” but that if the site supplied further details “then the file would be reopened and we would be able to make a charging decision”.
The woman said she was “appalled” by Pornhub’s alleged lack of co-operation.
She believes the videos were posted by her former partner, who has previous convictions for harassing women, shortly after she discovered that he was cheating on her: “I stood up to him and said: ‘No, I don’t want to speak to you any more.’ I think that loss of control kicked him off. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be other victims.”
Pornhub came under fire in July for hosting a video of a British teenager who claimed to have been gang-raped by up to 12 Israeli men at a hotel in Cyprus. Lawyers for the woman, who is currently on trial accused of making false allegations, claim she was a victim of revenge porn.
Blake White, Pornhub’s vice-president, said revenge porn videos violate the website’s terms and conditions and are removed if reported. He added that the company responded to an inquiry relating to the Derbyshire investigation and provided “personal information” about the account holder but “received an autoresponder email in return. Since then, we have no record of correspondence from Derbyshire constabulary.”