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Τρίτη, 2 Μαρτίου, 2021
Αρχική English Edition The Side of Porn Sites Kept Hush

The Side of Porn Sites Kept Hush


By Venia Kontogianni,

The somewhat abrupt decision by Pornhub to delete all videos that had been uploaded from unverified users earlier this month, has brought forth an unsettling issue that we all suspected existed, but were unaware of its extent: the variety of entrusted intimate pictures or videos, depicting people who had never intended of that material to ever be regenerated elsewhere, or videos that got uploaded after being stolen via hacking. We are going to delve into the detrimental effects of this social phenomenon, which, sadly, often emerge only in hindsight, when it is already too late. In the cyberspace, where everything can be downloaded or screen-captured, and therefore perpetuated, is anyone ever really out of the woods?

Pornhub’s decision was a reactive, after-the-fact action that was brought on as a result of online censure, and the site’s fault lies in that, ever since its creation in 2007, anyone could upload a video with little to no scrutiny. As a result, millions of often monetized videos promulgating cyber sexual violence, like revenge porn and crimes such as child pornography, flooded its realm. In all fairness, Pornhub is not the only culpable site, however, its recent post hoc measures towards eliminating this string of long-standing issues have created notoriety for the popular site, that is otherwise entrusted by many with their entertainment. PayPal severed its business ties with Pornhub earlier this year, while Mastercard and Visa have reportedly conducted investigations and ceased partnership with the pornography titan for now, rendering the future payments of professional actors and actresses uncertain.

The corporate verdict that ordered for the plug to be pulled from roughly 80% of the site’s total number of videos, brought to mind the renowned “Hannibal ante portas”: only after the issue had been brought to light by the opinion columnist Nicholas Kristoff, were measures finally implemented in battling unfiltered and illegal content. To put it plainly, had the issue not been knocking on Pornhub’s door, its intentions to resolve it in the near future remain doubtful at best. Kristoff shined a light on the story of a then 14-year-old girl, who had shared intimate content with a boy, who then shared it with others and it ended up gracing the pages of the popular site. Her life unraveled after the incident and she admitted to multiple suicide attempts. This testimony, albeit being one among a myriad of unknown ones that may never come forth, underlines a rather frightful fact about the way the site used to be run: in spite of it being uploaded by fellow underage classmates, the video was still in line with distribution of child pornography. Numerous outlets confirm that searching for videos depicting minors, used to lead to hundreds of thousands of results. Its jaw-dropping to consider that, for over a decade, the documented sexual exploitation of children was accessible to anyone who looked for it. In another extreme example, other outlets claim that there were real sexual assault videos on the website, be it non-consensual intercourse (rape) or life-threatening acts of humiliation, especially against females.

Generally, women, who are the focal point in the majority of such content, are more likely to be disproportionally affected by the leak of personal images and videos, while men usually face minor negative consequences. Moreover, women often become the subject of victim blaming and have their claims of abuse be trivialized. These practices are fanning the flames of self-doubt, a surging feeling among both adult women and underage girls, who could already be the target of sexual harassment online in the form of “slut shaming”. The circulation of documentation of intimate moments sends girls spiraling down a rabbit hole of plummeting feelings of self-worth, forces them to change schools or jobs and often exposes them to dangers such as stalking, rape threats or even death threats. Therefore, the psychologically violent nature of these contemptible practices pertains to the category of gender-based violence, causing trauma whose magnitude is onerous to overcome.

As previously stated, there is no witch hunt against Pornhub per se; the way it seems to have dropped the ball on appropriate and legal content, though, makes it an exquisite “Exhibit A” for its competitors. Pornhub is but a conquered fort in a sea of pornography-sharing sites, but its decision to delete over half of its content and, consequently, lose the partners who poured money into the sex film industry and helped keep it afloat, was a step in the right direction for avenging the innocent and unaware. What’s more, for fear of ensuing condemnation, legal action or broken business deals, one could hope that fellow sites would follow suit. Perhaps, though, expunging content en masse is not the answer moving forward. Instead, a highly advanced scrutiny system in-between the upload button and the actual post, could be effective, if capable of discerning parameters like age and consent between performers or establishing extra prerequisites to determine the bona fide of the uploader. If anything, pornography should not be abolished as a whole, but rather scanned for aforementioned illegal or distressing content that spoils the general fun and, more importantly, puts unaware people in harm’s way.


References
  • Fairbairn, Jordan. “Rape Threats and Revenge Porn: Defining Sexual Violence in the Digital Age.” In EGirls, ECitizens: Putting Technology, Theory and Policy into Dialogue with Girls’ and Young Women’s Voices, edited by Bailey Jane and Steeves Valerie, 229-52. University of Ottawa Press, 2015. Available here.
  • Barker, Kim, and Olga Jurasz. “ONLINE MISOGYNY: A CHALLENGE FOR DIGITAL FEMINISM?” Journal of International Affairs 72, no. 2 (2019): 95-114. Available here.
  • Franklin, Zak. “Justice for Revenge Porn Victims: Legal Theories to Overcome Claims of Civil Immunity by Operators of Revenge Porn Websites.” California Law Review 102, no. 5 (2014): 1303-335. Available here.
  • Eisenberg, Avlana K. “CRIMINAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS.” Michigan Law Review 113, no. 5 (2015): 607-62. Available here.
  • Laird, Lorelei. “Striking Back at Revenge Porn: Victims Are Taking on Websites for Posting Photos They Didn’t Consent to.” ABA Journal 99, no. 11 (2013): 44-50.  Available here.
  • OHCHR, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, Available here.
  • European Institute for Gender Equality, What is gender-based violence?, Available here.
  • The New York Times, The Children of Pornhub: Why does Canada allow this company to profit off videos of exploitation and assault?, Available here.
  • Take  Back The Tech, How To Deal With Privacy and Anonymity, Available here.
  • National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Dignity Defense Alert: PayPal severs ties with Pornhub, Available here.
  • Business Insider, Pornhub purges millions of unverified videos amid allegation of hosting child pornography, Available here.
  • SoyaCincau, Why did Pornhub delete 80% of its videos?, Available here.
  • Vulture, Pornhub Just Deleted Most of Its Content, Available here.

 

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Venia Kontogianni
Venia Kontogianni studied in Panteion University in the Department of International, European and Regional Studies. She is currently a trainee at the Greek Embassy in Ljubljana, Slovenia and volunteers as a translator in the League for Women's Rights.