Pornhub Admits Ties To Sex Trafficking, Gets Deferred Prosecution From DOJ

Pornhub (franco alva for Unsplash)

Aylo Holdings, the parent company of, has admitted to taking money from sex trafficking as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice.

The company was arraigned in federal court on a charge of “engaging in unlawful monetary transactions involving sex trafficking proceeds,” according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Aylo Holdings allowed other individuals to upload and distribute adult videos online on its websites, and knowingly enriched itself “by turning a blind eye” to the concerns of victims coerced into participating in illicit sexual activity.

The Justice Department’s agreement holds Aylo Holdings accountable “for its role in hosting videos and accepting payments from criminal actors who coerced young women into engaging in sexual acts on videos that were posted without their consent.” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge James Smith said Aylo Holdings was motivated by profit and deliberately ignored the concerns of victims who communicated to the company that they were deceived and coerced into participating in sex trafficking.

Founder of GirlsDoPorn, Michael Pratt, used Pornhub and other Aylo websites to distribute his explicit videos. A federal grand jury in the Southern District of California indicted Pratt and other co-conspirators in 2019 on charges of sex trafficking and coercing women to appear in explicit videos, which were posted online without their consent.

Court documents and Aylo’s own admission reveal that the company took money between 2017 and 2019 that prosecutors say the company either knew or should have known was coming from Pratt’s sex-trafficking operations. In September 2017, Aylo became aware that many of the women appearing in the GirlsDoPorn videos filed a civil lawsuit against Pratt alleging that they had been deceived into filming adult videos that were posted on Aylo also received requests from women between 2016 and 2019 to have the videos taken down.

The Justice Department’s agreement with Aylo Holdings subjects it to three years of monitoring. The investigation sheds light on an industry that was long believed to operate without proper oversight and regulation despite ongoing efforts to curb the proliferation of non-consensual and exploitative content. In December 2020, the European Union included Pornhub, Stripchat, and XVideos in stringent regulations under the Digital Services Act, signaling a serious effort to curb the proliferation of non-consensual and exploitative content on these platforms.