Pornhub’s new owner claims it will protect sex workers as well as share the platform’s tools

Mindgeek, owner of Pornhub, was acquired Thursday by private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners. The company's Vice President shared its plans for the site.

Mindgeek, the owner of Pornhub was bought by Ethical Capital Partners, a private equity firm.

Pornhub, one of the most popular adult entertainment sites on the internet, has been under intense scrutiny for hosting videos depicting child sexual abuse. After an opinion piece in the New York Times critical of the site, Visa and Mastercard removed services. Pornhub removed all unverified content, changed the people it allowed to upload to its site, but still struggled to shake its critics.

Solomon Friedman, Ethical Capital Partners’ vice-president of compliance, stated that despite the controversy surrounding Pornhub there is huge “social, technological, and financial” value to sharing Mindgeek’s hosting and moderation content about “sex positive expression between consenting adults”.

Friedman explained to NBC News that Ethical Capital Partners will be able to “completely control” its assets. The firm announced the acquisition in a press release. It stated that it was looking for investment opportunities in sectors that require “principled ethics leadership.”

Friedman is a defense lawyer who has been practicing for nearly 15 years. He said that he has experience in litigation related to child sexual abuse material investigation, detection, and prevention.

Mindgeek was not a vocal advocate in the years that followed the New York Times Op-Ed. However, its new owners are boldly defending Pornhub’s rights to exist.

Friedman said that Mindgeek’s tools to screen content for bad behavior were one of the key reasons Ethical Capital Partners purchased Mindgeek. These include Mindgeek’s verified uploader program and Pornhub, which is a law enforcement portal that provides “a suite of tools” for tracing and securing stolen content.

Friedman stated that “we see tremendous untapped opportunities in taking the tools and sharing them to the world.”

In 2021, Pornhub took slightly longer to remove child sex abuse material (CSAM), than other platforms, according the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Pornhub received three notifications of CSAM by NCMEC in less time than the average response time from all websites which was slightly longer than the average of 24 hours.

Pornhub submitted just more than 9,000 reports of child abuse to NCMEC 2021. Mindgeek and Mindgeek combined submitted less than 100 reports.

Friedman stated that Ethical Capital Partners will support and center sexworkers and sexually explicit content creators in discussions over legislation and regulation. This includes what payment processors such as Visa and Mastercard allow for sex workers or pornography websites.

Friedman stated, “We have defended the sex workers and seen the stigma.” “There’s stigma and shame, and that means there’s discussion and debates taking place in the absence or most directly impacted by it.

Mike Stabile, director of public affairs at the Free Speech Coalition (the trade association representing the adult industry), said that the acquisition announcement was met with enthusiasm by sex workers and adult stars.

Stabile stated, “At an time when the industry’s legislatively and culturally under tremendous attack, it really helps to hear one of the biggest companies speak out.”

Ethical Capital Partners announced the Mindgeek acquisition and also created an advisory board that includes Dr. Val Webber who is a doctorate holder in community health, humanities, and economics. Webber has extensive experience in webcamming and wants to improve the safety and well-being of performers and sex workers.

Webber stated, “My goal will always remain that performer safety does not have to be sacrificed for any other vision of safety.” It’s not just sexual health, but also mental health that is being continuously monitored and having your livelihood taken away.

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