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Pornhub sued by 34 women who claim site profited off videos posted without their consent

Nearly three dozen women have filed a lawsuit accusing Pornhub of profiting off of videos posted online without their consent which featured rape, revenge porn and child pornography. 

The 138-page lawsuit against Pornhub’s parent company Mindgeek was filed on behalf of 34 unnamed women in California state court on Thursday. 

Of the 34 women, 14 were underage when the nonconsensual videos were uploaded and another 14 were victims of convicted sex criminals. They live throughout the US and in the UK, Colombia, Thailand and Canada

Isabella – a fake name used to protect her identity – said she was only 17 and in high school when her boyfriend coerced her into making a nude video later uploaded to Pornhub. 

Michelle – another fake name used for protection – was 15 when she was victimized by a man convicted of blackmailing children to sexually abuse themselves on camera.  

The lawsuit depicts Mindgeek as a human trafficking crime syndicate ‘just like the Sopranos.’ 

There are ‘bosses’ and ‘over-bosses’ who operate in the shadows without an online fingerprint and billions of dollars in profits made from crimes like human trafficking, kiddie porn, copyright piracy, internet hacking, stalking, blackmail and extortion, money laundering, among others, the lawsuit claims. 

The lawsuit accuses Mindgeek of crimes including racketeering, typically associated with gangs and mobs, and damages could be in the hundreds of millions, lawyer Michael Bowe told CBS News.  

The 138-page lawsuit filed in California state court on Thursday alleges Pornhub profits off sex trafficking, child pornography and rape

Pornhub's parent company Mindgeek makes an estimated $97billion a year, according to the California lawsuit. In comparison, Netflix makes about $11.7billion a year

Pornhub’s parent company Mindgeek makes an estimated $97billion a year, according to the California lawsuit. In comparison, Netflix makes about $11.7billion a year

Mindgeek ‘is also one of the largest human trafficking ventures in the world. And it is likely the largest non-regulatory repository of child pornography in North America and well beyond,’ the lawsuit states. 

‘This is a case about rape, not pornography. It is a case about the rape and sexual exploitation of children.’  

In an interview with CBS News, Isabella said she didn’t know the video of her existed until a friend told her about it in college. By that time, it was viewed by more than 200,000 people. 

‘The view count on the video will forever haunt my dreams,’ she told CBS News. ‘Just knowing that that many people saw it really messed me up.’

Mindgeek, which owns and operates more than 100 pornographic websites, purposely doesn’t monitor what’s being uploaded and there’s no process to remove content ‘that was exploitive and illegal,’ the lawsuit states. 

In a separate federal lawsuit against Mindgeek, which was filed in February and contains very similar allegations, a Pornhub Senior Community Manager said in a Reddit post that age verification would be a ‘disaster’ for Pornhub because it ‘costs us money to verify’ and would result in a 50 percent reduction in traffic.

This is from a separate federal lawsuit, filed in February, which contains very similar allegations. A senior community manager for Pornhub said it would be a 'disaster' to verify ages

This is from a separate federal lawsuit, filed in February, which contains very similar allegations. A senior community manager for Pornhub said it would be a ‘disaster’ to verify ages

As it stands now, Mindgeek makes an estimated $97billion a year, according to the California lawsuit. In comparison, Netflix makes about $11.7billion a year. 

Aubrey – another fake name – told CBS News that her ex-husband secretly filmed them having sex and uploaded the video to Pornhub. Her ex faces criminal charges of forcible rape, domestic assault and non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images. 

When she tried to get the video removed, the Pornhub representative asked, ‘Are you the female in the video? How do you know this is you?’ CBS News reported. 

‘I know this is me by several things. That is my bed, I have a mole on my right hip, that is my face, my voice, THAT IS ME and I am pissed.’

When it was finally removed, she found it uploaded on other sites by users she didn’t know, according to CBS News. 

Mindgeek didn’t respond to DailyMail’s requests for comments but told CBS in a statement: ‘We are committed to eradicating illegal content’ and said earlier this year, the company enacted ‘the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history.’

‘We have banned uploads from unverified users, eliminated downloads, expanded our moderation processes, and partnered with dozens of non-profit organizations around the world, steps that surpass those of any other major platform on the internet.’

Antoon Feras, Mindgeek CEO, is named as a Soprano-like 'boss' in the lawsuit, which depicts the company as a crime organization

Antoon Feras, Mindgeek CEO, is named as a Soprano-like ‘boss’ in the lawsuit, which depicts the company as a crime organization

One of the ‘bosses’ named in the lawsuit is Mindgeek CEO Feras Antoon. The other is financier Berg Bergmair, who is accused in the lawsuit of ‘hiding behind a false professional identity, an extensively scrubbed internet fingerprint and extreme rules of secrecy.’

One of the rare public appearances for Antoon was during a February hearing before the Canadian House of Commons, where he admonished the use of child abuse imagery, CBS News reported. 

‘Sexual material, child abuse material has no place on our platform. It makes us lose money,’ he said. ‘It completely ruins the brand that we have been trying to build for over a decade.’

The two men represent ‘over-bosses’ who are unknown to the public or even Antoon, according to the lawsuit, ‘because they do not want to be publicly associated, or even risk being publicly associated, with the criminal enterprise they fund and from which they profit.’

 In its statement to CBS, Mindgeek said: 

Anyone who attempts to post nonconsensual imagery or child sexual abuse material on the internet is a criminal, and we are committed to remaining at the forefront of the internet when it comes to the elimination of illegal content. Every online platform has the responsibility to join this fight, and it requires collective action and constant vigilance. We hope other platforms will use our model to help eradicate unwanted content.’ 


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