Pornhub App Discontinued, Sold to Private Equity Firm

A Canadian private equity firm, Ethical Capital Partners (ECP), acquired MindGeek, the owner of several adult entertainment sites, including Pornhub, Brazzers, and Redtube.

As part of the deal, ECP, a company formed last year, did not disclose the terms.

“In MindGeek, we have identified a dynamic tech brand that is built upon a foundation of trust, safety and compliance, and with ECP’s resources and broad expertise spanning regulatory, law enforcement, public engagement and finance, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen what already exists,” said ECP founding partner Fady Mansour in a statement.

Following years of on-and-off suspensions, Instagram permanently banned Pornhub’s account in September. After a short suspension, the account was reinstated over the weekend. By Tuesday, it was permanently banned again.

“This was done in error,” an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch. “As we’ve said previously, we permanently disabled this Instagram account for repeatedly violating our policies.”

Instagram’s content guidelines prohibit nudity and sexual solicitation. A Pornhub spokesperson told TechCrunch, though, that they believe the adult streaming platform’s account did not violate any guidelines. Instagram has not commented on the exact reasoning for the ban, or which policies the account violated.

During the last few years, the porn giant has experienced some rocky times. David Tassillo, MindGeek’s COO, and CEO Feras Antoon, departed from the company in June 2022. Multiple lawsuits allege that MindGeek has profited from CSAM (child sexual abuse material). Users who appear in videos uploaded by others must now verify their identity after the platform removed all non-verified content in December 2020. OnlyFans, for example, enforces similar policies to combat nonconsensual content.

In its announcement, ECP refers to MindGeek as “the internet leader in fighting illegal online content.” The private equity firm lists several policies in MindGeek’s trust and safety program, including its moderation practices, which require human moderators to manually review all uploads.

MindGeek, and the online porn industry at large, faces significant risk from U.S. legislation like SESTA/FOSTA. The legislation carves out an exception to Section 230 that holds online platforms liable for facilitating prostitution and trafficking, so credit card processors have become skittish about running afoul of the law. Paying on sites like Pornhub is no longer possible through payment and credit card companies like PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, and Discover.

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