Opinion | An Uplifting Update, on the Terrible World of Pornhub – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

David Lindsay: Hallelujah! Maybe there is a god. Maybe that god resides a little bit inside of all forms of life, including humans. In spite of their incredible propensity for evil, humans can also do good works.

Opinion Columnist

We all need uplift this terrible year, so here’s inspiring news about some young heroes and the good they’ve achieved on a wrenching topic.

Young men and women who had been exploited by Pornhub as children shared their stories, their documentation and their mortification in hopes that this might prevent other children from being abused. And now, guardedly, there’s hope that they’ve brought about change.

Pornhub on Tuesday announced huge moves that could — if thoroughly put into effect — significantly curb future exploitation. I don’t trust Pornhub a bit, so officials will need to monitor this sector in a way they haven’t before.

And perhaps that will happen. Four senators, Josh Hawley, Maggie Hassan, Joni Ernst and Thom Tillis, on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to make it easier for rape victims to sue porn companies that profit from videos of their assaults. Another senator, Jeff Merkley, is separately drafting bipartisan legislation to regulate such companies more rigorously, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada (which is home to Pornhub) said Tuesday that his government was developing new regulations for these platforms as well.

Visa and Mastercard are reviewing their ties with Pornhub; there are calls for criminal prosecutions; activist groups like Traffickinghub are demanding action; and lawyers are circling with civil suits.

All this may explain why Pornhub on Tuesday announced three steps that mirrored suggestions I made in a long investigative column over the weekend that quoted the young people who so bravely told their stories. 1.) It will allow videos to be uploaded only by people who have verified their identities. 2.) It will improve moderation. 3.) It will no longer allow video downloads, which allow illegal material to proliferate.

We should all be suitably skeptical. Fake I.D.’s abound, and in September a Tuscaloosa man was charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in videos that he posted on his verified Pornhub account. And even if there is no download button, it is still possible to download using other methods.

That said, this is a big deal, and it happened only because of young people who spoke up and forced difficult conversations that government leaders had dodged.

One woman I wrote about, Serena K. Fleites, 19, felt her life spiral out of control after naked videos of her were posted on Pornhub when she was 14; after two suicide attempts, she was homeless and living in a car in Bakersfield, Calif., with three dogs, dreaming of becoming a vet tech but having no idea how to get there.

I’m thrilled to report that Fleites has been deluged with offers of housing, jobs, education and counseling, and she and her dogs have moved into a long-stay hotel with help from a GoFundMe backed by readers. One benefactor has volunteered to pay for her education to become a vet tech.”