CEO and COO of Pornhub’s Parent Company Abruptly Resign

CEO and COO of Pornhub’s Parent Company Abruptly Resign
PornHub boasts 130 million visitors every day. (Image: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

On Monday, one of the world’s biggest purveyors of porn, MindGeek, announced that executives CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Tassillo have resigned from the company following a string of controversies.

MindGeek is a Montreal-based company that, to the uninitiated, appears to be a run-of-the-mill web advertising and marketing company that boasts hundreds of millions of daily visitors and billions of ad impressions across its websites. The company casually glosses over the fact that these websites are some of the biggest digital pornography websites on the Internet: The company owns the likes of PornHub, RedTube, and YouPorn, just to name a few.

A MindGeek representative told Variety that Antoon and Tassillo’s transition from the company had been discussed since earlier this year, and the two will also allegedly remain shareholders in MindGeek.

“Antoon and Tassillo leave MindGeek’s day-to-day operations after more than a decade in leadership positions with the company,” the representative told Variety. “With the company strategically positioned for long-term growth, MindGeek’s executive leadership team will run day-to-day operations on an interim basis, with a search underway for replacements.”

The company did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment and we’ll update this post when we receive a reply.

While the reason behind these resignations is not immediately clear, they come in the wake of an extensive article published last week by The New Yorker that documents an alarming issue with PornHub — non-consensual content is reportedly easily and regularly uploaded to the platform. A portion of this content has involved minors, and “tube sites” (websites modelled after YouTube that host porn videos) have been successfully able to evade liability by legally claiming that they are not publishers of information and removing it when informed of its presence, a defence that comes with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The New York Times corroborated these claims in a similar article published in December 2020. This was around the time that MasterCard and Visa cut ties with the website citing concerns over uploaded videos depicting child abuse. In response, PornHub purged all non-verified content from its website and promised to only allow uploads from verified accounts. This move led to further criticism from sex workers who said their livelihood was under attack.

While PornHub and its massive parent company get a lot of attention, similar websites like xHamster do not have a “verified-uploads only” policy, and content moderation often features a team of underpaid workers who are forced to watch potentially traumatising videos depicting sexual assault or endangered minors.