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Pornhub Halts ‘Unverified’ Videos Following Report of Bakersfield Teen’s Plight



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Adult video website Pornhub said Tuesday it will halt unverified users from uploading video material after a report alleged that the pornographic website was showing videos of rape and underage sex.

The move comes after the New York Times published a story last week that included a profile of a now 19-year-old Bakersfield woman, who says underage videos of her keep appearing on the site despite repeated requests to have them removed.

Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and columnist

Over the weekend, Visa and Mastercard said that they are investigating their business relationship with Pornhub after Kristof wrote that the site also carries revenge pornography and other explicit video taken without consent of the participants.

Hedge Fund CEO Makes Offer of Educational Support to Victim

After reading the New York Times’ story, billionaire hedge fund CEO Bill Ackman offered to pay educational expenses for Fleites, who hopes to return to school to become a veterinary technician. She told Kristof that the posting of the videos when she was an adolescent led her to begin failing in school and to incidents of self-harm, including suicide attempts.

“As Fleites spiraled downward, a friend introduced her to meth and opioids, and she became addicted to both. She dropped out of school and became homeless,” Kristof wrote.

She is still in Bakersfield, he wrote, living in her car with three dogs.

Kristof’s extensive article, titled “The Children of Pornhub” raised larger questions about the business ethics of Pornhub and its affiliate sites. Kristof also asked why major credit card companies “should bolster a company that monetizes sexual assaults on children or unconscious women,” by engaging in business relationships with the company.

Credit Card Companies Challenged on Their Policies

Ackman, who founded Pershing Square Capital Management, posted a series of comments on his Twitter account Saturday challenging credit card companies to take action against Pornhub and “immediately withhold payments or withdraw until this is fixed. PayPal has already done so.”

In addition to his offer to assist Fleites with her education, he linked to a GoFundMe account that has been set up by others on her behalf. As of Tuesday, that account had raised over $51,000 from more than 1,100 donors.

Site Says It’s Banning Users from Downloading Material

Pornhub said that it doesn’t knowingly allow images of sexual abuse of children. But, in a blog post on Tuesday, the company listed steps it was taking to further protect against images of abuse and nonconsensual activity on its site.

Pornhub said next year it will announce ways in which individuals can become verified users. It will still allow new material from partners it knows, like porn production companies. The website has a huge volume of material: 6.8 million new videos were uploaded last year. The company could not say Tuesday what percentage of that was from unverified users.

Pornhub said it has hired a law firm to conduct an independent review of its content, has moderators that examine each video that is posted to the site and works with 40 organizations with a focus on child safety to monitor what it posts.

The company said that “every online platform has the moral responsibility” to join in the fight against depictions of child sexual abuse or non-consensual activity.

The site also said it was banning users from downloading material from its site.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Randy Reed is a writer and content producer for GV Wire. He has experience reporting for local radio stations and newspapers. In addition, he an extensive background in video production focused on news and documentary subjects. Reed is a proud graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communications. In his free time, Reed enjoys digital photography as a hobby and loves to explore the scenic beauty of our Valley’s three spectacular National Parks. You can contact Randy at 559-705-2107 or Send an Email.

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