How Big Porn Is Making The Coronavirus Crisis Even Worse

How Big Porn Is Making The Coronavirus Crisis Even Worse

The Wuhan coronavirus epidemic has turned the lives of most Americans completely upside down. As social distancing practices have been adopted nationwide, many have found themselves isolated from everyday human interaction, suddenly cut off from extended family and friends, and — if they’re lucky enough still to be employed — forced to work from home. In addition to creating a public health crisis, the virus has exacerbated a pre-existing problem of loneliness and anxiety that has been plaguing many Americans, especially young men, for years.

One industry in particular is taking full advantage of the crisis. The virus has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Big Porn to capitalize on our social isolation.

Last week, for example, one of the web’s most popular porn sites, Pornhub, moved to make all its premium content free for users in Italy, which had just gone under lockdown. This week, it extended the offer to France and Spain.

Here in the United States, although porn sets may soon be shutting down out of infection concerns, online sex performers are reporting booming business. Perhaps most disturbingly, Vice News reported earlier this month on a surge of coronavirus-themed porn on sites such as Pornhub and xHamster, proving a well-known internet maxim that there is nothing — absolutely nothing — pornographers won’t sexualize if it might make them a profit.

During a worldwide pandemic that has already taken thousands of lives, concerns about a rise in porn usage may seem trivial. However, to brush these concerns aside would be a huge mistake.

Like the coronavirus, pornography use is silent but deadly, a powerful disease that has had devastating effects across our society. Although coronavirus may attract more headlines today, pornography will be with us for the long haul. Porn cannot be vaccinated against, it has a nearly $100 billion industry devoted to its spread worldwide, and few are brave enough to stand against it.

Sixteen states have declared the explosion of online porn to be a public health crisis, recognizing the serious threat it poses to us all. This is no exaggeration. Research has increasingly exposed the terrible consequences of widespread porn use.

To name just a few: addiction to greater amounts and more depraved forms of porn, desensitization to sexual abuse and violence, and a higher likelihood of involvement in dysfunctional relationships. Most alarming is the impact pornographic material is having on children, who by some reports encounter it for the first time at age 11 on average.

The growth of the porn industry has also led directly to the exploitation of women and children through sex trafficking. As Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., highlighted in a recent letter to the Department of Justice, Pornhub has, in a number of instances, been caught hosting content which showed “women and girls that were victims of trafficking being raped and exploited.” Unfortunately, as other reports have shown, this issue goes well beyond Pornhub.

Given the distressing scope of this problem, much can and ought to be done to combat it. For example, as Sasse called for, DOJ should ramp up its investigation of Pornhub and other sites complicit in sexual exploitation. Government authorities should also use existing obscenity law to crack down on the exposure of children to porn. Congress should consider legislation that would eliminate Section 230 immunity for porn sites that rely on user-generated content and other platforms that knowingly facilitate the spread of pornography to minors.

Amid our current crisis, each of us should also be doing our part to deny Big Porn the business it craves and protect our children from its influence. As bad as coronavirus is, we cannot afford to fight one disease by simply trading it for another. Now more than ever, we must join together to take on the pornography industry and defeat the terrible porn epidemic.

Terry Schilling is the executive director at American Principles Project.
Most Popular
Related Posts