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WALSH: Pornhub Exposes Millions Of Kids To Hardcore Porn. They Aren’t Required to Verify Ages. They Should Be.

The world’s largest porn site, Pornhub, is facing renewed criticism for hosting thousands of videos of sexual assault and child abuse. In one case, 58 videos were uploaded of a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim being raped on camera. This is far from an isolated incident.

A woman recently wrote a blog post talking about her own experience of being raped at 14 and eventually finding multiple videos of her assault on the platform. The videos, she says, had titles like “teen crying and getting slapped around” and “passed out teen.” One of them had close to half a million views. She emailed Pornhub many times begging them to remove the content. She says they didn’t even acknowledge her request until she sent a final message pretending to be a lawyer.
These kinds of stories are common and inevitable. Pornhub lets anyone upload hardcore porn to their site. Though they claim they take careful steps to weed out rape and child porn, that is clearly not the case. And it’s not like this content hangs out on the site’s dimly lit fringes. “Teen” is one of Pornhub’s most popular search terms and, across all porn sites, rape-themed videos enjoy immense popularity. Companies that make millions of dollars off this stuff will insist that the rape videos are only pretend rape, and the 13-year-old girls in the “teen” videos are really 18-year-olds dressed up to look like high school freshmen. But we know for a fact that isn’t the case.
Yet this is only one facet of the problem when it comes to Pornhub and sites like it. The other issue is that anyone at all, of any age, can visit these domains and easily access billions of hours of filth and depravity so vile that it causes PTSD in the detectives tasked with sifting through it to prosecute child porn. No age verification is conducted or even attempted. Many gambling sites require a driver’s license or passport to ensure that users are legal age. Some take even more stringent steps. Cryptocurrency exchanges use similar measures. Same for stock trading sites. Even sites that feature pictures of alcohol force you to enter your birthday before you enter.
This latter measure is obviously circumvented easily, but the point is that Pornhub doesn’t even do that much. They make absolutely no effort whatsoever to keep kids away from the hardcore rape porn on their site. And that should concern all of us in a country where children as young as 8-years-old are watching this stuff. In fact the situation is worse than Pornhub merely making no effort to protect kids. On the contrary, they explicitly market themselves to underage kids. Only a nation of impotent cowards would sit back and allow smut peddlers this kind of free rein, as if they have some sort of sacred, God given right to show gang bang videos to third graders.
The good news is, we don’t have to allow it. And you don’t have to agree with my previously stated views on banning porn to agree that sites like Pornhub should at least be subject to minimal regulations to prevent them from profiting off of the abuse and corruption of children. Few of us, with the exception of absolutist libertarians, would argue that it is a tyranny to require liquor stores to verify the age of their customers. And even though we think parents should do everything in their power to stop their underage kids from binge drinking, we still agree that companies that sell alcohol should bear some responsibility. If an 8-year-old waltzed into the local Quick Stop and came out with 40 ounces of malt liquor in his hand, it may be true that he has neglectful parents. But that doesn’t justify the neglect of the person behind the corner who chose to sell the product to a customer who was very clearly well below the legal age. As previously stated, we even expect other kinds of websites to carry this sort of burden. Why should Pornhub be an exception? What makes them special?
As has been proposed in other countries, a law could and should be passed requiring sites like Pornhub to make some attempt to verify a user’s age. We all understand that no age verification system will be perfect. But any system will be a hell of a lot more effective than none. Especially if that system requires a photo ID or a credit card. Alternatively, as has also been proposed, adults who wish to access porn could be required to opt-in with their internet service provider. In order to cutback on the rape and child porn on the platform, Pornhub could be required to block search terms that are directly related to that kind of content. You should not be able to upload a video titled “passed out teen” and you should not be able to search for such a video. Sex with a passed out teen is rape. It would be fairly easy for Pornhub to filter out videos that explicitly advertise themselves as rape. It’s just that, right now, they are not required to install such filters. They are not required to do, or prevented from doing, much of anything.
I am not advocating for a Big Brother dystopia. I am not saying the government should parent my kids. I am not trying to “legislate morality.” I am talking about very basic, reasonable, not terribly onerous measures that would put sites like Pornhub right in line with other companies that sell products we have deemed unsuitable for children. Sure, I would prefer to burn the porn industry to the ground and salt the  Earth with its ashes. But you don’t need to hold that position to see that Pornhub is harming children, and monetizing that harm, and it has no right to do that.

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