One lady’s battle to take away all traces of her videotaped sexual assault

WARNING: Some readers might discover the content material of this story disturbing.

TORONTO — In August, Rachel, whose identification W5 is defending, dug out an outdated exhausting drive from her Alberta house to again up her pc.

It was a tough drive that belonged to her ex-husband. When she opened it up, Rachel noticed a folder she didn’t acknowledge. Rachel was about to open the darkest chapter of her life.

Contained in the folder, Rachel discovered images of herself. Bare photographs. Sexual photographs. Some have been photographs that she had reluctantly allowed her husband to take and she or he had assumed have been for his eyes solely. Others weren’t photographs of her in any respect, however footage of another person’s bare physique. The pictures had been organized into folders, cropped and manipulated.

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She searched the web for “Methods to do a reverse picture search” and found one thing terrifying: the photographs had been posted onto two totally different porn websites. She clicked on the username to see who had uploaded it. Rachel says a photograph of her ex-husband appeared.

However the worst was but to come back.

Rachel looked for the username that her husband had used. It led to a video uploaded to the world’s greatest porn website, Pornhub. In that video, it exhibits her, in her personal mattress, clearly unconscious. She says her husband’s arms may be seen reaching in to maneuver her, contact her and sexually assault her. The video titles embody “whereas sleeping” and “sleeping drugs.”

“I am not even aware. I don’t transfer,” she tells W5. “You may inform that there was no consent within the video.” Rachel regarded on the date of the add. It was from 2017. Which means it had been on-line for 3 years earlier than she found it. That additionally meant that when it was posted, Rachel was nonetheless married to her ex.

The subsequent morning, Rachel referred to as the RCMP. She says the Mounties advised her to not try to take away the photographs whereas they started their investigation. However for the subsequent two weeks, she looked for the video’s title and was horrified by what she discovered. Evidently different folks had downloaded the video and uploaded it to different porn websites. Rachel says when video views tallied 200,000, she stopped counting.

Pornhub is an web titan. Daily, the positioning averages about 115-million visits. That’s greater than Netflix or Amazon. Customers can watch tens of millions of movies free of charge. Nevertheless, the positioning rakes in tens of millions of {dollars} from promoting and promoting premium memberships.

Pornhub’s guardian firm, MindGeek, is now the goal of at the very least 5 lawsuits, together with a world class-action go well with in Canada, which has not but been licensed.

The fits allege that the corporate profited from non-consensual and youngster abuse content material, regardless that it had a duty to make sure all its content material was authorized.

For Rachel, one of many worst components was realizing it was her personal husband who posted the video.

“I used to be simply completely shocked that the individual you need to be capable to belief most on the earth would put these photographs and pictures on the market on these porn websites. It was such a violation.”

Days after Rachel advised the RCMP concerning the video, it disappeared from Pornhub. Many different porn websites additionally eliminated the content material over the subsequent few months. Nevertheless, when she looked for the identify of the video on Google in January, it nonetheless returned 1,900 outcomes.

Evidently though Pornhub had eliminated the video, it nonetheless stored thumbnails of the bare photographs. As a result of these thumbnails nonetheless existed, a Google search would discover – and show – these bare photographs. She realized the one strategy to get rid of these was to get Pornhub to take away all traces of the thumbnail photographs.

That was no straightforward activity.

She despatched Pornhub a “content material elimination request,” with many extra messages to observe that she’s shared with W5, demanding they take away all traces of the video.

“Are you able to scrub this video utterly from all of your websites please? I recognize that it’s not playable, however nonetheless seems in a number of pages of Google outcomes,” she wrote. “Google received’t course of a elimination request as a result of they are saying the content material nonetheless exists. A number of different web sites have hyperlinks to this content material in your website… I didn’t consent to this video being made, nor to it being uploaded to Pornhub.”

As an alternative of taking down the photographs, “Marios,” a Pornhub consultant, advised Rachel that she should contact the person websites that linked to the Pornhub photographs and ask them herself.

Later that day, one other Pornhub consultant, “Kevin,” despatched her a observe that advised her it was additionally her duty to contact Google to take down something on its search engine.

Rachel was apoplectic. Pornhub was telling her that the photographs related to the non-consenting video have been now her duty to trace down and take away. She despatched them one other message, with a decidedly extra aggressive tone.

“You guys determined to host a non-consensually uploaded video of my assault in your website for 3 years. I need each hint of this video eliminated. Not simply from Google; from the precise web… Out of your website particularly and out of your affiliated websites, corresponding to Thumbzilla. The thumbnail – that you just created and distributed – is actually my bare physique… Like, dudes – you’ve even been contacted by the police with regard to my video and you continue to have an image of my boobs in your website. WTF?”

Kevin responded once more, insisting that Pornhub “can NOT” take away content material from different websites. Nevertheless, that doesn’t appear to be utterly correct. Pornhub provides one thing referred to as its “unique mannequin program,” which guarantees that it’s going to ship takedown notices to any web site to “assist defend your content material from being uploaded to different web sites.”

It provides this “safety” to purchasers who pay a charge for this unique service. The purpose being that Pornhub has actually requested content material to be faraway from different websites.

“It’s attention-grabbing how succesful and diligent you might be relating to your monetized ‘unique’ content material, whereas caring completely nothing concerning the non-consensual content material you (illegally) select to host,” Rachel wrote to Pornhub. “If additional letters are required on this topic, they are going to be from my lawyer.”

In February, a month after her authentic request and lots of messages later, Pornhub advised her they’d lastly eliminated all traces of her content material. However to this present day, Rachel says should you seek for her video by identify, it nonetheless returns photographs of her bare physique and infrequently, she nonetheless finds her video on different websites, the place it’s nonetheless playable.

She suspects that many individuals have the unique video on their very own exhausting drives as a result of they have been as soon as in a position to obtain it from Pornhub’s website. Pornhub has just lately eliminated that obtain button.

Rachel says that Pornhub has by no means provided her an apology.

“It’s devastating. I imply, that is one thing that’s going to hang-out me for the remainder of my life,” she says. “I’ll at all times be somebody’s porn.”

On Friday, Pornhub launched its first-ever Transparency Report outlining content material moderation practices and security insurance policies from reported content material final yr.

Click on right here to learn MindGeek’s statements to W5

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