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Pornhub: Bosses of parent company MindGeek resign

2022-06-22T14:30:39.756Z

For years, two nearly invisible men ran what might be the biggest tech empire nobody knows: MindGeek. Now they are vacating their posts, which supposedly has nothing to do with illegal videos on Pornhub.



Do you actually know the bosses of the big tech companies?

Facebooks or Metas Mark Zuckerberg – easy.

Apple's Tim Cook too.

YouTube's Susan Wojcicki, Instagram's Adam Mosseri, Google's Sundar Pichai, Microsoft's Satya Nadella - not exactly easy, but a piece of cake for most nerds.

Only who please knows the bosses of MindGeek?

And if the next question is "Mind-What?" then I'm with you.

Amazing actually.

Because MindGeek's pages are - according to their own statements - visited 4.5 billion times a month.

In Germany, one of the group's offers is ranked 26th among the most visited websites.

Directly behind the Tagesschau, before Wetter.com.

The site is Pornhub, and like dozens of others, it belongs to one of the most powerful corporations in one of the most lucrative corners of the internet, online pornography.

On Tuesday it came out: The two MindGeek bosses, Feras Antoon and David Tassilo, are resigning.

After almost a decade on the job and shortly after The New Yorker magazine published research on the company.

Their results are not entirely new.

The article is long, well researched and contains many interlocutors (even if one or the other person later distanced himself from the research).

The allegations are:

Pornhub, the flagship of the MindGeek group, is doing too little against illegal content.

Again and again, videos of people who never wanted to be there ended up on the site.

People filmed naked in changing rooms, whose ex-partners secretly release sex tapes, rape videos.

Content by Minors.

All illegal, all incredibly damaging to the people shown there.

The victims often fight for years to have the videos deleted - with mixed success at best.

Also got rich with videos that destroyed lives

All of this has been known to industry insiders, victims, and MindGeek itself for years.

For a long time only a few people were interested in the public.

In December 2021, the »New York Times« columnist Nicholas Kristof published his research, which caused a lot of trouble for Pornhub, about which SPIEGEL also reported: The payment service providers Visa and MasterCard withdrew a petition that ended Pornhub's end calls , reached more than two million signatures.

And she forced the MindGeek bosses into the public eye.

At least a bit.

Finally, one can say.

Because for years the two men, who became rich while laxly dealing with illegal content destroyed other lives, managed to largely evade the public eye.

Antoon, a Canadian with a gray beard and a receding hairline, came to the group as the brother-in-law of one of the founders.

Back then, in 2011, he was still talking about the golden beginnings of the empire over rib-eye steaks: that they specialized in women with large breasts, for example because the niche was “so cheap”.

However, he did not want to reveal much about himself.

Even less is known about Tassilo, except that he is a fan of practical tax-saving models.

His name appears repeatedly in the Pandora Papers, a gigantic data leak that reveals how the wealthy and corporate bosses parked their money in tax havens.

The last public appearance was more of an involuntary one

Together, the two led the company, which gradually developed from a somewhat amateurish hodgepodge of porn booths into a sleek, perfectly vertically integrated porn content machine.

None of them had much to do with porn before.

In fact, Antoon once said, almost boastfully, that he didn't even set foot in Sets when he was already running MindGeek.

As if not knowing the business you work in is an advantage.

The two had one of their rare public appearances involuntarily: In response to the research of the »New York Times«, the Canadian parliament (MindGeek's headquarters is in Montreal) invited the two to a hearing.

Victims of abuse testified via video call, after which Antoon and Tassilo tried in the best corporate language to avoid the questions of the angry parliamentarians.

You don't know how many complaints there have been against Pornhub in recent years.

Unfortunately, no information can be given about how content would be moderated.

And although you don't do anything wrong, you want to improve.

Antoon: "We're very sorry if this affected victims." If.

Pornhub and MindGeek, while far from perfect, it should be known, are not the worst players in the online porn business.

Competitor xhamster, for example, we have already reported on this, has been hiding its backers for years, fooled public authorities and pushed its rise with dubious means.

After all, since the »New York Times« research, Pornhub only allows uploads from verified users, millions of videos have been deleted.

A big step for a tube site.

Many sex workers have criticized the media and activist focus on the company, which moderates content and employs sex workers.

MindGeek denies that Tassilo and Antoon's exit had anything to do with the problems uncovered in the "New Yorker": The step had been planned since the beginning of 2022.

Temporarily, a spokesman for Variety magazine said, the replacement would come from within the company's own management ranks.

Looking for a replacement in the long run.

Maybe this is a chance to put someone at the helm of the company who actually cares about the business, about the working conditions of sex workers, about the pitfalls of content moderation.

Who also visits a porn set.

But perhaps MindGeek will continue to be just as opaque as before.

There's a good chance that one of the most powerful porn companies in the world will once again be run by someone nobody knows.

Antoon and Tassilo remain shareholders for the time being.

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I wish you a summery week,

Janne Knoedler

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-06-22

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