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How an Undercover Reporter Exposed Pornhub's Shocking Child Exploitation

Meet Arden Young, an investigative reporter with Sound Investigations, who went undercover to expose the predatory practices of PornHub. Her hidden camera exposé not only shed light on the dark underbelly of the platform but also sparked significant action to prevent abuse of children online. 

During this Child Abuse Prevention Month, we’re excited to tell you all about it.

Arden’s personal journey

Former actress Arden, haunted by personal experiences of exploitation, now fights to shield others from harm. Arden explains,

“I became very sensitive to the idea of sexual exploitation. I had witnessed and experienced some very inappropriate situations during my time in the industry that helped me develop a heart for it and an awareness. But after leaving the industry, I really got the courage and passion to pursue this fully as a journalist in order to shed light on how many people and children can be exploited.”

Now as an adult with the life experience and understanding to make sense of what happened to her, she seeks to protect kids from predatory practices that abound in Hollywood and the porn industry. 

The catalyst: a New York Times article

Arden took action after reading The Children of Pornhub, a 2020 New York Times opinion piece by award winning Nicholas Kristoff. This piece detailed how Pornhub profits from child pornography. Pornhub’s practices were forced into the spotlight, prompting them to require users to have verified identities in order to upload videos. They also removed a stunning 80% of its content due to it not meeting verification standards — more than 10 million videos!

Arden shared,

“[The Times article] detailed victims' struggles to get their abuse videos taken off of Pornhub. Those videos, often of underage victims, were being circulated and monetized on PornHub so the abuser and the adult platform were mutually profiting off of it, which is really disturbing. These victims had a very, very hard time getting those videos removed. And some even report as of 2024, their videos are still being circulated on PornHub. I realized that such a huge corporation has a hand in knowingly profiting off of child sexual exploitation.”

Like many, Arden smelled a rat and didn’t believe Pornhub would keep their word to keep child sex abuse material (CSAM) off their platform.

“So we decided to go undercover, and see if in fact, these things were still happening, and to prove it out of the horse's mouth. We hear these victims speaking up and seemingly screaming into the abyss. No one wants to listen to them, especially not these adult platforms. So we wanted to actually record them talking and maybe they would listen to their own employees speaking.

The exposé: 7 shocking admissions from Pornhub executives

Armed with a hidden camera, Arden and her team uncovered stunning admissions from Aylo (the parent company of Pornhub) executives. Here are just a few revelations from the videos that Arden has posted on her X page. Aylo execs:

  1. Claim that porn helps children figure out their sexual identity. If children see porn alternative to straight or “vanilla sex,” they may discover that they like something else and understand their sexual identity better. Kids will “find their kink.” (You see, porn is helpful to kids. Aren’t you glad to know that this adult site that hosts videos “made by adults for adults” is so interested in helping kids find their kink?)
  2. Admits their algorithms will recognize if a viewer is watching straight porn. If so, it will start to suggest videos containing LGBTQ in an attempt to “convert” the viewer to more types of porn. When a viewer broadens the types of porn they watch, it means more money for Pornhub.
  3. Reveals that all an underage viewer needs to do to access Pornhub is to just “go onto the site.” 
  4. Claims that there are a lot of educational aspects of porn, “especially for boys.”
  5. Admits they can’t verify the ages of people appearing in videos and are monetizing it anyway.
  6. Reveals how users can exploit a loophole for identification verification by never having a face appear in the video. Since IDs only show faces, it doesn’t help when faces are obscured in videos. So anyone can upload a video and claim they are in the video, but there is no way to actually verify their face when only body parts are shown. The admission was made that rapists and traffickers 100% exploit this loophole. This video is here, but we must caution you that there is strong, profane language.
  7. Admits they intentionally promote videos with “performers” who look thirteen because those ads do really well. These ads draw “pedophilic men who like seeing young boys, and can be turned into whales.” A whale is a user who purchases a lot of content. These ads also do well with “young teens.”


Mobilizing change

The stunning revelations by Sound Investigations have mobilized change. Here’s what has happened since the videos were released:

  • 26 Attorneys General have signed a letter to Aylo pressuring them to explain the ID verification loophole and whether Aylo is taking measures to change this policy to ensure that no children or other victims are being abused for profit on any of its platforms.
  • Aylo revised their upload policy requiring verification for both ID and consent for all individuals appearing in videos.
  •  A class action lawsuit against Pornhub, filed by child sex abuse victims, was certified by a federal judge that cites Sound Investigations’ videos as evidence.
  • Sound Investigations participated in a congressional briefing, hosted by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, detailing its findings. 

A collaborative effort

When asked how she feels about being part of exposing Pornhub and effecting change, Arden gave credit to many others. She shares,

“So many before me have been advocating for changes like this. There have been hundreds of victims who have sued the parent company of Pornhub for involvement in sex trafficking. There have been activists like Laila Mickelwait and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). Exodus Cry has done so much to raise awareness around these issues. So if I had anything to do with it, I'm so, so glad. But really, there are so many before me putting in so much work and I kind of just hopped in.”


Parents can join the fight against sexual exploitation

Going undercover to fight the porn industry may not be for everybody, but there are things every parent CAN DO to protect kids from pornography and sexual abuse. Arden shares that her goal is to prevent children from being exploited online and has tips for parents.

“The best thing that parents can do to prevent sexual exploitation is to:
  1. Speak to their child about digital dangers in an age-appropriate way. 
  2. Explain what pornography is, and give them a way that they can feel comfortable reporting it to a trusted adult if they ever are exposed to it by someone.
  3. Tell them they should never be ashamed of reporting it, and they're never going to get in trouble for telling a trusted adult when they are made to feel uncomfortable.
Because unfortunately, it's becoming so common for a very young child to be exposed to adult content, either by another child or just innocently searching something online and they don't realize what they're about to see. Or the most unfortunate is when an adult shows it to them in an attempt to groom them.”

Resources for parents

It is our mission at Defend Young Minds to give kids defenses against pornography and sexual exploitation. Here are resources you can use to have these conversations with your kids.

Supporting Sound Investigations

One of the easiest ways to support the work of Sound Investigations is to follow them on social media and share their content. They are most active on X (formerly Twitter), and you can find their page here. Simply sharing a link with someone you know, whether through a text message or any other means, spreads awareness.

All of their investigations are posted on their website.

They are a self-funded, nonprofit organization. Undercover investigations are costly, and they accept donations here.

If you have any tips for them to investigate adult industries, they can be contacted at SoundTips@protonmail.com or on Signal at 404-955-7002.

Safeguard your child

Let Arden’s story inspire you to start these crucial dialogues today, safeguarding your child and ensuring they are safer in the digital world.

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Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids

"I really like the no-shame approach the author takes. It's so much more than just 'don't watch or look at porn.' It gave my children a real understanding about the brain and its natural response to pornography, how it can affect you if you look at it, and how to be prepared when you do come across it (since, let's face it... it's gonna happen at some point)." -Amazon Review by D.O.

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