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XTube, a prominent pornographic streaming platform, is shutting down as its parent company faces mounting accusations that it facilitated sex trafficking on its subsidiary sites.
The platform announced this week that it was disabling video and photo uploads as it prepared to close down on Sept. 5. The exact reason for the shuttering is unclear but anti-trafficking advocates have heralded the closure as a victory for their movement.
MindGeek, XTube's parent company, told FOX Business on Tuesday that it believed its users would be better served on one of its other platforms.
"Like any tech company, we are constantly evaluating our content offerings and products to best serve our users," a statement from the company read.
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"XTube has always had a dedicated but small community, and we believe that its users and creators will be better served on one of our existing platforms, where they will be able to take advantage of wider reach and increased visibility."
Started in 2008, the platform is just one of MindGeek's many pornographic streaming services, which includes the highly-visited site Pornhub. While Pornhub has long faced criticism, the backlash seemed to intensify last year when The New York Times published a story accusing it of monetizing child rapes, among other things.
The ensuing controversy included Visa suspending its payments and Mastercard severing its ties with the company. After Kristof's report, Pornhub also removed all of its unverified content and instituted a series of other measures designed to prevent abuse.
MindGeek has repeatedly denied allowing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and recently rejected as "absurd" the notion that it ran like a criminal enterprise. That accusation came as part of a class-action lawsuit in June with 34 women alleging that they ended up on Pornhub, featured in abusive videos without their consent.
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The company has faced several similar lawsuits, including another class-action case led by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
"XTube’s announced shutdown is more evidence that MindGeek’s exploitation empire is crumbling," said Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. "This is welcome news, given the mounting evidence that MindGeek has hosted and profited from child sex abuse material, rape, sex trafficking, nonconsensual material, sexual violence and other racist and misogynistic sexual content on its myriad of pornography websites. XTube’s closure is a clear victory for the movement to hold Pornhub, MindGeek, and the pornography industry accountable for their facilitation of sexual abuse and exploitation."
Activist Laila Mickelwait, who leads ExodusCry, also celebrated XTube's closure, tweeting: "MindGeek’s porn tube sites don’t do well financially without massive amounts of illegal unverified content— and without credit card processors."
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The explosion of internet pornography in the 21st Century has raised several ethical, social and policy questions as its reach has been substantial. Pornhub alone reported that it garnered 42 billion visits — or an average of 115 million visits per day — in 2019. In addition, a record 6.83 million videos were uploaded to the site that year.
According to similarweb, the site had 2.31 billion total visits in May of this year – a slight decrease from the 3.2 billion visits it saw in December of 2020. Its sisters site XTube has seen much smaller numbers with 10.77 million total visits, according to similarweb. Since December of 2020, XTube underwent a decline in total visits from 26.9 million to 10.8 million in May.
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Like similar platforms, MindGeek's encountered the challenge of continually monitoring mass uploads from users around the world.
"Any assertion that we allow CSAM is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue," the company told Fox News last year. "We have zero tolerance for CSAM. Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating CSAM, and has instituted an industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community."
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