Pornhub have recently announced that their paid-for ‘Premium’ section is now free to access in an effort to make the prospect of staying indoors during the Covid-19 crisis a more attractive proposition. Presumably, the hope is that the deluge of new content will keep viewers entertained for a period exceeding the current international lockdown regime. In fact, this is highly likely: Pornhub recently boasted that if all of its new content from 2019 alone was watched consecutively, it would take over 150 years to get through.

This effort by Pornhub to normalise their brand through freebies as mainstream entertainment – like Amazon’s free kids’ TV shows or Audible’s free kids’ library – comes off the back of highlighting how they continually profit from videos and images of child sexual exploitation, rape, and human trafficking.

But Pornhub’s status as profiteers in human misery is well established, so this latest cynical marketing ploy comes as no surprise. However, it is still vital we draw attention to the way the porn industry actually works for those who may not be familiar with this troubling reality. By exposing the industry for what it truly is, we can offer viewers a choice: either they become knowingly complicit in furthering the global sex trade, or they decide to reject this by rescinding their participation in a wider societal demand.

Numerous studies show that porn consumption is an escalating behaviour, with a variety of negative impacts on the mental and physical health of users. One such impact is the desire to seek out increasingly taboo and hardcore videos and images as a result of an increasing “tolerance” – in other words, a reduction in physical pleasure and stimulation as more content is viewed. Studies show that users begin to search for content that previously they may have considered shameful or problematic. By releasing vast swathes of new “content”, Pornhub is encouraging users to devote more of their time to consuming porn, which in turn can lead to these escalating behaviours and ultimately can contribute to the production of outright criminal content as demand increases.

This latest move by Pornhub also sheds a light on exactly how the porn industry treats the women involved – as nothing more than products in a marketplace. We should not be fooled by Pornhub’s attempts to appear magnanimous by allowing performers to keep all of the profit they would have otherwise made; Pornhub have simply removed a barrier to accessing what would otherwise be the purchasing of a woman’s body, albeit digitally. Further, the fact there is a Premium section at all highlights that even within this market there is a hierarchy of value for the women involved. The fact that it is even the case that some women are seen as more valuable based on their ability to perform sexually should be encouragement enough to reject this dreadful industry.

CEASE UK roundly condemns this cynical attempt by Pornhub to profit off the misery caused by the global pandemic that faces us. It is yet further proof that the porn industry cares nothing for the wellbeing of the public at large, or those trapped within the industry. We must all work to end its stranglehold on society.