Backpage May Be Dead But Its Horrors Live On

Recently we reported to our readers about the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof article. Today, it seems the bombshell ripple effect it’s created has just about everyone talking.

We compared the subject of Kristof’s article, Pornhub, to the sex trafficking clearinghouse Tony Ortega shilled for and suggested the argumentation now being used by Pornhub and its defenders runs along the same lines as the bogus lies Ortega was peddling in order to whitewash Backpage’s rampant criminality. 

Tony Ortega made a great show of claiming billion dollar businesses which sexually exploit trafficked women and girls for cash aren’t improper or unethical, they are instead – in Tony’s warped view – simply an expression of free speech. And naturally Backpage together with the latest incarnation of monetized trafficking, Pornhub, have a vested interest in keeping people from looking too closely at their vile business models. 

Pornhub serves as a clearinghouse for the worst kinds of smut, just like Backpage did. Its parent company, Mindgeek, hides behind the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230 immunity to evade responsibility for content posted by users in the same way Backpage did. And, like Backpage before it, the company clearly profits from the criminal exploitation of minors, including violent rapes. 

As Kristof notes of Pornhub in his article:

Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. A search for “girls under 18” (no space) or “14yo” leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.

It is both alarming and disturbing just how alike Pornhub and Backpage are, both in theory and practice.

Those who would argue there is a difference between hosting smutty videos online the way Pornhub does and hosting ads for the selling underage girls to pimps arranging shady rendezvous at sleazy motels the way Backpage would do, clearly fail to understand that magnitude of the victimization going on behind the scenes is the exact thing that lead authorities to shut down Backpage in 2008.

Regular readers of this blog might have a sense of just how alike Backpage and Pornhub are after reading the following story Kristof includes in his article:

After a 15-year-old girl went missing in Florida, her mother found her on Pornhub – in 58 sex videos. Sexual assaults on a 14-year-old California girl were posted on Pornhub and were reported to the authorities not by the company but by a classmate who saw the videos. In each case, offenders were arrested for the assaults, but Pornhub escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them.

It is the same story we’ve been seeing over and over with Backpage. The sex traffickers may have migrated to a new platform, but the horrors remain the same.

In our post yesterday we suggested that though Backpage may be shuttered, and Tony Ortega seems to be unable to find the courage he once had to defend its practices, nonetheless the blueprint Ortega helped forge in defense of child sex traffickers lives on.

Given the traction Kristof’s New York Times article is generating, however, it seems people are starting to pay attention. A new wave of anti-trafficking justice may soon be coming for the dark world of online pimps and those who de-fend them – and quicker than the likes of Tony Ortega and his former pals might wish.

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