QotD: “Top accountant cuts ties with Pornhub over ‘abuse videos’”

Auditors have severed their ties with the owner of Pornhub, the world’s largest pornography website, as a scandal over illegal videos continues to grow.

The accountancy firm Grant Thornton said it would no longer work for MindGeek, a Canadian tech conglomerate, in the UK and Ireland amid claims that Pornhub hosts revenge porn and footage of rape and underage sex.

Mastercard and Visa have already cut ties with the company after the New York Times revealed this month that Pornhub was “infested” with abuse footage. The report claimed the site made money from videos showing “child rapes, revenge pornography, spy-cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags”.

Nicole, a British woman, said naked footage taken when she was 15 had been repeatedly uploaded to the site. She told Pornhub in a message last year: “You really need a better system. I tried to kill myself multiple times after finding myself reuploaded on your website.”

Pornhub denied the allegations. However, it has since removed more than 10 million of the 13.5 million videos it was hosting. It has also suspended videos that were not uploaded by its “content partners”, which it said was more than Facebook, TikTok or Instagram had done to prevent the uploading of illegal material.

Last week 40 women launched an $80m (£59.2m) lawsuit against MindGeek in California, claiming its sites profited from a “sex trafficking” operation called GirlsDoPorn.

Pornhub gets more than 42 billion visits a year — more than Amazon or Netflix — and posted sales of more than $460m in 2018.

The MindGeek empire also includes RedTube and YouPorn, on both of which adult video is shared, and more than 100 other sites. It is owned by Feras Antoon and David Tassillo and has 1,400 staff in Germany, Ireland, Hungary, Greece and London.

Campaigners have long criticised MindGeek’s policies. The Internet Watch Foundation found more than 100 cases of child abuse on Pornhub between 2017 and 2019. PayPal, the payment provider, cut ties last year.

Pornhub has since turned to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to process payments.

Grant Thornton, the UK’s sixth-largest accountancy firm, said it had “taken the decision to cease any future engagement” with MindGeek’s British and Irish subsidiaries. MindGeek did not reply to requests for comment.

In a blog post, Pornhub said it was being targeted by organisations dedicated to abolishing pornography and commercial sex work.

“In today’s world, all social media platforms share the responsibility to combat illegal material. Solutions must be driven by real facts and real experts. We hope we have demonstrated our dedication to leading by example,” it said.


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