Instagram withdraws PornHub’s Account

Instagram has sacked the official account for PornHub as pressure from campaigners against the site rises. However, Instagram hasn’t articulated why it removed the account.

The news was first documented by Variety, which notes that PornHub’s Instagram account had some 13.1 million supporters and 6,200 posts at the time of its dumping.

The statement posted safe-for-work content that encouraged PornHub’s various videos and performers. PornHub still operates widespread accounts on other social media platforms like Twitter.

It’s unclear exactly why Instagram’s parent company Meta sacked the account. However, screenshots shared by anti-PornHub campaigner Laila Mickelwait indicate the account was taken down for infringing Instagram’s community guidelines.

Mickelwait is the creator of the “TraffickingHub” campaign: an advocacy group dedicated to “shutting down Pornhub and holding its administrators accountable for enabling, distributing and benefiting from rape, sex trafficking, child abuse, and criminal image-based sexual abuse.”

Mickelwait sets herself as an anti-sex-trafficking campaigner, but analysts note her connections to evangelical Christian groups that support the total abolition of all sex work and saleable pornography. According to Mickelwait’s website, she previously operated at Exodus Cry, a Christian “abolitionist” group that likes to “end the sex industry” and records Mickelwait’s “TraffickingHub” beneath the “our campaigns” bloc of its website.

Exodus Cry “appears to have been brooded in International House of Prayer Kansas City, the Christian ministry guided by pastor Mike Bickle, a dominionist, believing, as Political Research Associates explains it, that ‘God has summoned conservative Christians to exert dominion over society by taking command of political and cultural institutions.’”

In a message posted on Twitter, Mickelwait said Instagram and Meta had earned the “right judgment by cutting connections with Pornhub” and that it was a period for other major tech companies like  Amazon, Google, and Microsoft to “follow suit.”

Criticism of PornHub for encouraging the distribution of child abuse material has increased in recent years, implicating its business associates and directing the resignation of its CEO and COO. In addition, in 2020, Visa and Mastercard intercepted processing payments on PornHub due to “unlawful content” on the site, though this hasn’t stopped lawsuits against the groups. In August, a California judge permitted a case against Visa, reasoning that the company “intended to help MindGeek monetize child porn.”

In response to criticism, PornHub has taken steps like removing all content from unverified users and removing a download function that lets any user download any video.

Pornhub is a Canadian-owned internet pornography website. It is the many pornographic video-streaming websites owned by MindGeek. As of June 2020, Pornhub is the 10th most trafficked website globally and the third most-trafficked adult website after XNXX and XVideos.

Pornhub was founded in Montreal, Canada, in 2007. Pornhub also has an office and servers in Limassol, Cyprus. In March 2010, the company was bought by MindGeek (known then as Manwin), which owns numerous other pornographic websites. The site is available internationally but has been blocked by some individual countries like the Philippines, India, mainland China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It delivers virtual reality porn, amongst other products, and hosts the Pornhub Awards yearly.

Incidents have been reported of Pornhub hosting non-consensual pornography. The company has been criticized for slow or inadequate responses to some of these incidents. It is hosting the high-profile channel GirlsDoPorn, which was closed in 2019 following a lawsuit and charges of sex trafficking. In December 2020, following a New York Times article on such content, payment processors Visa and Mastercard cut their services to Pornhub. In addition, on 14 December 2020, Pornhub removed all videos by unverified users. It reduced the content from 13 million to 4 million videos.