Extremist Christian groups are using far-right social media platform Gab to call on new recruits to “defend women and children” by “abolishing sex work and trans rights”.
In February, calls for violence reached new heights when a photo of a PornHub executive was posted on Gab with the message: “Wanted! For crimes against women and children. Help us bring pornstars to justice. Save your children from the LGBT ideology. Save your daughter from becoming a whore. Save the white race!”
The Gab post described Pornhub as a “cartel” and said that if the Canadian government (Pornhub’s parent company, Mindgeek, is headquartered in Canada) doesn’t sentence its employees to death, members of the Christian group will execute them.
The increasingly violent rhetoric, with far-right and Christian extremists aligned against LGBT+ people, women, sex workers and trans rights, is being driven by anti-trafficking initiatives, according to a Vice article about the Gab posts called “The Crusade Against Pornhub Is Going to Get Someone Killed”.
In October last year, Exodus Cry posted a blog about the same Pornhub executive named on Gab, saying that it wants people to “join the fight to expose Mindgeek and bring their ‘real’ executives to justice for profiting off of sex crimes”. The Exodus Cry campaign against Pornhub, #Traffickinghub, includes T-shirts with the slogan sold for $25 and has the stated aim of shutting Pornhub down entirely.
Another picture posted on Gab shows women wearing #Traffickinghub shirts with the caption: “Volunteers in LA are carrying out patrols, looking for whores, pimps and TIM/TIF [‘trans identified male/trans identified female’, which are transphobic slurs] creeps. Women must protect themselves at all cost, the Biden government won’t and its only going to get worse! Defend women and children, abolish sex work and trans rights.”
Exodus Cry and its campaign Traffickinghub have condemned the violent posts on Gab and have never called for violence themselves. But the underlying ideology that the porn industry must be eradicated and that all sex work is trafficking is the same.
“I have been following this stuff for almost twenty years and I have been following far right internet communities over the last few years, and I am shaking reading this,” tweeted journalist Melissa Gira Grant, author of Playing The Whore: The Work of Sex Work.
Mary Moody, founding board member at the Adult Industry Laborers & Artists Association, told Vice that organisations like Exodus Cry try to eradicate the adult industry by making sex workers fear for their lives.
“Violent imagery from their adherents is the direct result of their violent rhetoric against sex workers,” she said. “Traffickinghub foment their followers into a deadly frenzy, that is their goal, and they are to blame for the fear sex workers live with, and the deaths that follow.”
A Pornhub spokesperson said: “Rampant anti-porn rhetoric has drastically increased instances of death threats and doxing against our employees.
“Unfortunately, it has also been detrimental to the hundreds of thousands of models who seek to use our platform to earn a living.”
The majority of anti-trafficking organisations in the US are pushing for the “Nordic model”, which criminalises buyers of sex.
Labour MP Diane Johnson recently began trying to introduce the Nordic model into the UK. It’s opposed by the majority of sex worker advocacy groups, as well as human rights organisations like Amnesty International and the Human Rights Campaign and trans rights campaign groups.