The Fight to Hold Pornhub Accountable

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One night in 2017, a fifteen-year-old girl named Rachel received a WhatsApp message from a number she didn’t recognize. Rachel lived with her mother, stepfather, and siblings in a midsize town in the United Kingdom. She had just returned home from a party and was in her bedroom. “I had a really unstable home life, and I didn’t have good support around me,” Rachel told me recently, while sitting on her bed in a fluffy white bathrobe. “I was a complete mess, I didn’t trust anyone, I was in complete self-destruct mode.”

The man who sent the text forwarded a nude photograph of her, the source of which she couldn’t figure out. Then he sent a link to her mother’s Facebook account and the names of other family members and school friends, threatening to forward the picture to them if she didn’t follow his instructions. Immediately, she recalled an episode from a few years earlier, when classmates passed around a photo of her in her underwear, which precipitated months of bullying and a bout of depression. Panicked, she complied with his requests. He first instructed her to brighten the lighting in her room, and to take photos of herself in her underwear. He then had her take more photos, this time naked, and take videos of herself stripping and masturbating. The videos became progressively more explicit, Rachel told me, until the man asked her to do something so revolting that she refused. She cut off the correspondence and sat on her bed “in a state of shock,” she said. Later, her mother came in to say good night. Rachel pretended that everything was fine.

Read more at The New Yorker

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