Why Do We Let Corporations Profit From Rape Videos?April 29, 2021
This article contains descriptions of sexual assaults.
This isn’t about pornography, but about rape and sexual abuse.
“I’ve no problem with consensual adults making porn,” says a Canadian student. “Who cares?”
The problem is that many people in pornographic videos weren’t consenting adults. Like her.
Just after she turned 14, a man enticed her to engage in sexual play over Skype. He secretly recorded her. A clip, along with her full name, ended up on XVideos, the world’s most-visited pornography site. Google searches helped direct people to this illegal footage of child sexual abuse.
In a video above this column, she recounts how she begged XVideos to remove the clip. Instead, she says, the website hosted two more copies, so hundreds of thousands of people could leer at this most mortifying moment of her life, preserved forever as if in amber.
That happens all over the world: Women and girls, and men and boys, are sexually assaulted or secretly filmed, and then video is posted on a major website like XVideos that draws traffic through search engines. While the initial video assault may be brief, the attack on dignity becomes interminable.
“The shame I felt was overwhelming,” the Canadian student says.
I wrote in December about Pornhub, a Montreal-based website that pioneered access to free porn uploaded by anyone — so-called tube sites that are like YouTube for nudity and sex. Since that article, credit card companies have stopped working with Pornhub, the site has removed more than nine million videos, and the Canadian and United States governments have been cracking down on the company’s practices.
But as I noted at the time, the exploitation is rooted not in a single company but in an industry that operates with impunity, and punishing one corporation may simply benefit its rivals. That’s happening here. When Pornhub deleted videos, millions of outraged customers fled to its nemesis, XVideos, which has even fewer scruples.
Pierre Woodman, a veteran European pornographer, told me that while I may have damaged Pornhub financially, for XVideos “you are Santa Claus.”
That’s not a comfortable feeling, and it’s why we need to work to rein in an entire rogue industry — and for now, the behemoth is XVideos, bolstered by Google and other search engines.
“We are the biggest adult tube in the industry, with an average of two billion daily impressions worldwide,” boasts XVideos, which SimilarWeb ranks as the seventh-most-visited website in the world. Two slots behind is a sister website with almost exactly the same content, XNXX.com. Each gets more visitors than Yahoo, Amazon or Netflix.
XVideos and XNXX appear to be owned by mysterious French twins and based in a nondescript office building in Prague not far from Wenceslas Square. This building is the hub of a porn empire that gets six billion impressions a day and inflicts anguish all around the world — which raises a question:
Why do we let companies get away with this?
Read the full story by Nicholas Kristof on The New York Times.