How Pornhub, the World’s Top Adult Website, Was Forced to Sell Due to Poor Management and Child Abuse Scandal

Recently, MindGeek, a company that holds the world’s top adult websites such as Pornhub, was forced to sell due to “poor management”. Last year, payment giants Visa and MasterCard said they were suspending cooperation with MindGeek. The CEO and COO of MindGeek submitted their resignations due to external pressure… The siege of Station P has been going on for more than 2 years.

“The Child Destroyed by Station P” has aroused public attention
On December 4, 2020, The New York Times published the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Ji Sidao’s article “The Ruined Child of Station P”.

“This seemingly heart-warming and healing P station, with 3 billion ad exposures every day, makes it a lot of money! I contacted P station very early and wanted to talk to the management, but I didn’t receive it. How many responses, the CEO refused to talk to me.” As soon as the article came out, it caused a huge response from all over the world.

Station P, in the eyes of foreign netizens, is a popular pornographic video website. It will release humorous advertisements in New York Times Square, offer snowplows to clean the snow on the streets of Boston, and donate to support NGOs fighting for racial equality. During the raging epidemic, Station P even played a card of warmth, and the video content is free to help netizens survive the long blockade.

According to the data released by Station P, the site has more than 100 million visits from netizens every day, surpassing Netflix, Yahoo, and Amazon, and almost twice the sum of Google and Facebook, ranking among the top ten in the world in terms of visits. More than 3 billion advertising impressions every day bring sky-high advertising revenue.

But in reality, “Post is flooded with rape videos. It monetizes child rape, revenge porn, candid footage of women showering, racist and misogynistic content, and clips of women smothered in plastic bags. Every A single search for girls under the age of 18 or even 14 can get more than 100,000 video results. Most of the content is not sexually assaulting children, but there are still too many content that are indeed sexually assaulting children.” Ji Sidao wrote.

Ji Sidao cited several real cases, where videos of children, women, etc. being assaulted were circulated on P station, causing victims to suffer “secondary sexual assault”, but P station profited from it.

A 15-year-old girl went missing in Florida, USA. The heartbroken mother found her daughter in 58 pornographic videos on the P station. The video of a 14-year-old Californian girl being sexually assaulted was posted on the P station. It was not the company that called the police, but the girl’s classmate. Although the criminals in the two cases ended up in jail, Station P escaped the responsibility for spreading the video and profiting from it.

Like Youtube, P-site allows netizens to upload their own videos. There are 6.8 million new videos released every year, most of which are voluntary adult videos, but child abuse and involuntary violence videos also abound. Whether the girl in the video is over 18 or even 14 years old, Station P has no idea at all. The difference from Youtube is that because P-site allows netizens to download videos directly, even if the publisher deletes it at the official request, it may be too late, as this video has already been downloaded by many customers. Netizens continue to share and upload, and the infringing videos may exist forever in the online world, and the injuries of the victims can never be healed.

“Station P is a human trafficker! If you type in ‘young Asian, you may find me.” Carly was trafficked after being adopted by an American family. He was forced to appear in a pornographic video at the age of 9, and the video was put on the P station. “I’m still being trafficked, even five years after I left that life.” The 23-year-old is studying at university and hopes to become a lawyer – but the horrific old videos linger. “I may never get rid of them, and even at 40, with eight kids, people will still watch videos of me masturbating.”

“Station P profited from my pain and suffering.” Taylor, an 18-year-old girl, complained. The police confirmed that when she was 14 years old, her boyfriend secretly recorded a sex video and sent it to the P station.

“When I walked into school the next day, everyone was swiping their phones and looking at me, and they were all laughing.” Because of the shame and trauma, Taylor attempted suicide twice.

Fleeters, a 19-year-old girl, has a tragic fate, is traumatized, runs away from home, has no job, and lives in a car. “I was so stupid to never think that a sex video would be shared online by an ex-boyfriend. It was such a small thing for teenagers, but it’s crazy how big it has become. A A small mistake can change your whole life!”

Ji Sidao sarcastically said: “The Internet Watch Foundation can’t explain why the number of complaints on P station is so low. Maybe it’s because P station users have become accustomed to this and don’t bother to report it. If you know what to look for, you can find it on P station in half an hour. Hundreds of videos that clearly feature child sexual abuse. A recent playlist offered by Platform even includes titles like: Under 18, Best Boys Favorites, and Underage.”

“This is also the problem that victims are constantly facing: a sexual assault will eventually end, but P station will make this torture endless.” Ji Sidao pointed out, “Why do search engines, banks or credit card companies support a sexual assault? Companies that make money from children or comatose women. We should stand up and oppose companies that are exploiting in an organized way. With Station P, we have 1,000 Epsteins!”

The scandal was exposed, and the pressure of public opinion came overwhelming! The National Anti-Sexual Exploitation Center of the United States intervened strongly. The official website released a large number of videos of victims telling their experiences, and called on the victims to file a class action lawsuit against MindGeek, demanding that the P station be completely shut down. Company executives must take responsibility for rape, abuse and violations . 2.1 million people around the world signed a petition to close the P station, the accounting firm in charge of the company’s audit terminated its cooperation with it, the US and Canadian lawmakers demanded an investigation, the credit card company stopped cooperation, and cut off the flow of funds…

Station P had to issue new regulations, announcing that it would stop all unreviewed uploads, only allow content from authenticated users, and delete nearly 10 million videos from unauthenticated users, accounting for two-thirds of the total content. A station P insider said: “As a leader in the pornography industry and the adult entertainment industry, I think Station P has a moral obligation and should do more.”

Former employees broke the news one after another, that there was a serious shortage of review staff and the review standards were extremely loose. “The 30 auditors each have to review 1,000 videos in 8 hours of work every day. Such high-intensity work pressure, fast-forward viewing, and no sound are normal. It is impossible to distinguish the age of the characters, whether they have been violated, and other information. “Facebook has 15,000 reviewers.

Digging out the “man behind the mirror”
Relaying the “New York Times”, the British “Financial Times” launched a global tracking and dug up some information about the parent company and boss behind the P station.

Porn in the internet age seems to be everywhere, but its masters are nowhere to be seen. No entity exemplifies this more than MindGeek, which quietly became the dominant porn company with little scrutiny or accountability. The Montreal, Canada-based company has some of the most visited websites in the industry: Station P, Station R and Station Y. 15TB of video is uploaded every day, equivalent to half of Netflix’s content. In its heyday, Station P attracted 3.5 billion visits from Internet users every month, far surpassing Netflix and Amazon.

“Station P is the most visited adult site on the planet, and that’s what we advertise to our customers,” the former employee said. “That’s why MindGeek is the most powerful company in the business, because they own these free sites, have huge They don’t need to rely on other people’s traffic, and they earn more money than other people in the industry.” A relevant practitioner revealed: “It was not uncommon to be free in those days, and the key to the success of P station was’free + non-toxic, free from viruses. The small websites of the company were immediately distinguished and won the trust of users.”

MindGeek encourages users to upload videos, obtains a large amount of traffic and users, and then acquires competitors in batches, resolves content supply and copyright disputes, and makes money through advertising and paid members. In 2015, the company reported a loss of more than $47 million on revenue of $465 million. In 2020, MindGeek earned $500 million through ad sales, affiliate marketing, and premium subscriptions.

A reporter reported the history of the P station: German Fabian Teimann first founded manwin company, relying on the software that helps adult websites to place advertisements, earning the first pot of gold. Sensitivity to data made him discover that the business of adult websites is promising. So with more than 300 million US dollars in loans or investments, manwin acquired many adult websites in one go.

The 125 early investors who put in $362 million, including JPMorgan Chase and Cornell University, did their best to keep themselves out of sight, quietly making big money in the shadows. After the incident, JPMorgan Chase and Cornell University declined to be interviewed. The school said that the investment portfolio of the school fund is confidential.

Teiman said: The company’s profit is 25%, and the interest on the loan is “very, very high. If I tell you, you will all think I am crazy.” In 2018, the company paid $370 million in interest.

It all came to a screeching halt in 2012 when German prosecutors charged Thyman with tax evasion, when he was arrested in Belgium and extradited. Soon he sold the company to Austrian Bernard and CEO Anton and COO David, and in 2013 manwin changed its name to MindGeek. At this time, half of the top ten adult websites in the world are under its control. Amazingly, MindGeek has gone to great lengths to keep its secrets a secret, and it has done so well. The company is not listed, but chooses to register in Luxembourg. It has its headquarters in Montreal, Canada, employs 1,600 people worldwide, and has branches in famous tax havens such as Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands.

The name of the majority shareholder, the Austrian Bernard Bergmar, is barely visible on the Internet. His identity is known only to a small group of executives and advisers. Bernard Bergmahl is not named at all in MindGeek’s company registration documents, but he owns a large stake in “a complex network of subsidiaries”. As for one of the secrets of making money, the parent company MindGeek owed a debt of 200 million US dollars to one of its subsidiaries. By paying the principal and interest in installments of 1.8 million US dollars per month, Bernard got the money without revealing his identity. Make a fortune in a muffled voice.

MindGeek official website does not see any shadow of the porn industry. Instead, the company bills itself as “a leader in the design, development, and management of high-traffic websites.” In 2018, MindGeek refinanced, borrowed 400 million US dollars, and continued to expand. “They are pursuing a 100% monopoly, and they want to dominate the global market.”

In 2014, the American online magazine Slate declared: “MindGeek has achieved a monopoly in the adult film industry”. “The Economist” jokingly said that even if the anti-monopoly agency wants to take MindGeek, it may not find a chance to start. This is not only because MindGeek’s entities are scattered all over the world, with users all over the world. The more important reason is that everyone pretends that this industry does not exist, whether it is the actors who make the film, the users who watch the film, or the regulatory agencies of various countries.

The laws against child pornography in the Western world are extremely strict. However, MindGeek and the behind-the-scenes funders managed to hide themselves from the supervision of governments. “No politician wants to talk about the sex industry because they have to admit it’s part of everyday life, so no one is going to hold multinationals like MindGeek accountable.”

Law firm initiates class action
In June 2021, the Brown Rudnick law firm initiated a class action lawsuit against Station P and MindGeek on behalf of the plaintiffs whose videos were posted on Station P without their consent. The indictment calls it “one of the largest human-trafficking enterprises in the world” and possibly “the largest repository of non-custodial child pornography in North America.” Rachel, a British woman, is one of the plaintiffs. After the lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to MindGeek, the company quickly deleted Rachel’s video and prevented it from being uploaded again.

“This is a case about rape, not just pornography. MindGeek is a typical criminal enterprise.” The plaintiff’s request is that the law hopes to further protect many victims like Rachel around the world from further harm. “The online porn industry operates like an old-fashioned commercial red-light district, where the rules that should apply don’t apply,” said Michael Michael, attorney for the plaintiffs.

A 17-year-old woman was coerced by her boyfriend into filming a nude video, CBS News reports. Then she forgot about the video until a friend told her that the video was uploaded anonymously to the P station. “I joined the lawsuit because I sought justice for myself and the countless victims who did not come forward,” the victim said.

The internet lets sites make money from videos made by others with little to no liability for their content. The talisman MindGeek relies on — Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act of 1996 — states that “interactive computer services” cannot be considered publishers of information provided by third parties. This clause is meant to allow the internet to grow without being inundated with lawsuits. It also means that adult sites can claim innocence when they come across complaints about videos depicting rape, images of child pornography, revenge porn, and other content uploaded without consent.

On April 25, 2021, MindGeek CEO Anton’s mansion in Montreal mysteriously caught fire. The fire burned all night, and the flames rose 150 feet into the air. Police arrested two suspects, the case is confusing.

For more than 10 years, Anton was interviewed by Vanity Fair for the first time, complaining: “There is no doubt that extreme pornography prohibitionists have encouraged or carried out arson. When you use extreme language to provoke people’s attention to child trafficking and sexual abuse When there is hatred, it will attract the attention of people in the darkest corners of the Internet.” He emphasized that MindGeek is a responsible company, and P Station will have better supervision. “These lawsuits will not destroy P Station, and we are not worried.” .

In February 2021, two women filed a lawsuit in Alabama, alleging that videos of them being sexually assaulted as teenagers were posted on the P station without their consent, and claimed that the P station was related to the rape of the uploaded video. The offender shared the income generated by the video.

MindGeek argued for dismissal of the case on the grounds that Section 230 gives it “broad immunity from content posted by third parties on its website.” The judge rejected that defense, saying it provided an incentive to produce child sexual assault material, thereby forfeiting Section 230 protections.

“Under Section 230, child pornography is not information provided by other information content providers,” the judge wrote, “it is an illegal contraband derived from the sexual abuse of a child and not protected by the First Amendment, Neither have the protection or immunity of the law.”

Individuals in possession of the material could be prosecuted, the judge noted, “how can a corporate defendant get away with doing the same illegal thing”?

In August 2022, American hedge fund giant Ackerman criticized the payment giant Visa for profiting from child pornography in an interview, and should pay a “very huge” price for it.

As founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, Ackman has emphasized his willingness to fund lawsuits against Visa and Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek.

“Victims of the case now have a strong, well-funded backer and won’t be forced to settle with a large corporation.” Ackman said his Pershing Square Capital Management firm has no financial interest in the lawsuit. The billionaire, who took to Twitter to disdain and berate Visa for its role in MindGeek’s business, wanted to fund victims of the case for one simple reason — he’s the father of four daughters. Ackerman said he has been in touch with Michael, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, and hopes his support will allow the case to go to a jury trial.

The judge hearing the case denied Visa’s motion, and Visa must face the plaintiffs’ claims. Visa said in an emailed statement that it still does not believe it is a proper defendant in the case. “Visa condemns sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse material that is contrary to our values ​​and purpose as a company. This pretrial ruling is disappointing and mischaracterizes Visa’s role, policies, and practices. Visa will not Tolerate the use of the Internet for illegal activities.”

“P Station is not a video site, but a crime scene!” In March 2023, Netflix released the latest documentary “P Station Story”, which conducted an in-depth investigation of P Station and its parent company, MindGeek, and interviewed sex workers, former website employees, and reporters. and interviews with anti-sex-trafficking activists. As soon as it was launched, the documentary was on the weekly list of broadcast volume.

The latest documentary reveals that the top management of the P station company only cares about traffic and revenue, and ignores the appeals of the victims. Even if the video is removed from the shelves, it is only because of regulatory requirements to block the video, not to delete the video. MindGeek collects the data of crazy users through subsidiaries such as P Station, and then continuously optimizes through algorithms and search engines to customize exclusive content for different users, strengthen user addiction, and attract traffic and advertising revenue.

In the same month, Ottawa, Canada-based private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners (ECP) announced the acquisition of MindGeek.

ECP’s website describes itself as a firm that “seeks investment and advisory opportunities in industries that require principled, ethical leadership.” Founder Friedman said that after the change of ownership, MindGeek will open a new era of transparency in the entire industry. The new boss said that he will solve the legal issues involved in MindGeek’s P station, and will also crack down on illegal online content. Separately, he announced the creation of an advisory board to help protect the “physical health” and “mental health” of performers on his site.

In April, dozens of members of Canada’s Senate and House of Representatives published an open letter calling on the federal Liberal government to move faster to introduce legislation to crack down on non-consensual and child sexual abuse material online.

They criticized the Canadian federal government’s slow progress and inaction in cracking down on pornographic websites such as MindGeek’s P station. Conservative MP Arnold said bluntly: “Victims should not wait years for justice. Every day the government does not act is another day that victims of child abuse or sex trafficking are exploited online.”

Sixty-nine MPs are putting pressure on the Liberal government to act now. MPs call on government to support victims who want videos uploaded without consent to be removed online, implement 14 recommendations from Canada’s House of Commons Ethics Committee’s 57-page report on website P, support efforts aimed at combating child and other sexual abuse New Bill of Materials.

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