Nevada makes sexual exploitation ‘Dirty Dozen List’ again

So do tech giants & popular apps

The Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel in Mound House, Nevada - photo: Brian Bahouth/the Ally

In a press conference held earlier today, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) announced that the State of Nevada is once again on its Dirty Dozen List of mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation. 

The Dirty Dozen List is an annual campaign “highlighting 12 mainstream entities for facilitating, normalizing, and even profiting from sexual abuse and exploitation.” First published in 2013, the Dirty Dozen List has targeted and effected change in some of the world’s largest companies like Google, Netflix, TikTok, Hilton Worldwide, Verizon, Walmart, the U.S. Department of Defense, and others.

The NCOSE says the 2021 list features several entities that have profited from the COVID-19 crisis by taking advantage of worsening social and economic vulnerabilities and exploiting the increase in online activity for profit. 

“Our list highlights institutions that are facilitating and even profiting from sexual exploitation. Most of the targets greatly benefited from the pandemic, like Google, that saw shipments of Chromebooks double in 2020, but refused to proactively turn on safeguards for the millions of devices going to schools – leaving kids at risk of exposure to pornography and even predators,” said Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “Others, like OnlyFans, took advantage of the increased vulnerabilities caused by COVID-19. Another target, Wish, irresponsibly advertises on Pornhub, thereby keeping this known exploiter in business.

“Corporations and popular brands shape our culture and influence the ways we communicate, what causes we support, and even how our children are learning in school. Unfortunately, many are also perpetuating harm and violence. These ‘Dirty Dozen’ are hereby put on notice. We encourage the public and governments to join us in holding these entities accountable, pressing on them to change exploitative policies and to prioritize human dignity over profit,” said Nealon. 

The State of Nevada’s system of legal brothels is on the list for a second year. The State, Nevada Legislature, and Governor were the defendants in a now dismissed lawsuit brought by a pair of women who were trafficked from Texas into Nevada’s illegal sex industry, the largest of any state. Nevada is a hub for sex trafficking.

“Legalized brothels in Nevada have proven to be a failed experiment,” the 2021 Dirty Dozen list reads. “They (legal brothels) also violate the U.S. Constitution’s Thirteenth Amendment which bans involuntary servitude and slavery because of the trafficking associated with them. Evidence shows that a legalized sex trade increases demand from sex buyers and therefore increases sex trafficking as exploiters try to satisfy the market. Survivors are exposing the ugly truth about life behind brothel doors. By legalizing brothels, Nevada is profiting from sexual exploitation and abuse—just like any other pimp.”

The 2021 Dirty Dozen List also includes: 

Amazon “Amazon, the world’s titan of e-commerce, logistics, data storage, and media, also peddles endless amounts of sexual exploitation. As a social platform, Amazon’s Twitch is rife with sexual harassment, predatory grooming, and child sexual abuse. As an online retailer, Amazon is in the business of selling incest-themed porn, sex dolls, photography books with eroticized child nudity, and more. As a media creator, Amazon Prime Video inserts unnecessary, gratuitous nudity and simulated sex scenes into many of its original programming, while providing faulty parental controls. As a web host, AWS is host to many hardcore violent pornography and prostitution websites.”

Chromebooks “Google’s refusal to turn on safety features for Chromebooks distributed to schools has resulted in countless students being left exposed to sexually explicit material and sexual predators on their school-assigned devices. More than 40 million students and teachers worldwide were using these popular devices prior to the pandemic. Millions more received Chromebooks for virtual schooling after COVID-19 hit. Instead of helping, this trillion-dollar tech giant chooses to place the burden on overwhelmed schools and parents while leaving children at risk.”

Discord – “The popular platform Discord allows users to connect and chat with each other in real time and it boasts over 100 million active monthly users. Discord has inadequate age verification procedures in place and relies on user reports to moderate much of its content. Hundreds of private and public channels are rife with sexually graphic, violent, and exploitative content, and children are at risk of exposure, grooming, and other predatory behavior. ”

EBSCO “EBSCO Information Services is the leading provider of online learning resources for schools and libraries. Though they market their products as “age and curriculum-appropriate,” graphic sexual content and live links to prostitution and pornography websites are easily accessible to K-12 students. EBSCO recklessly hosts material harmful for kids under the guise of education.”

Netflix “Netflix is a staple of at-home entertainment for over 150 million subscribers who stream their content. Mixed in with the hours of entertainment, though, is sexually graphic and degrading content. Netflix has improved its parental control system and added content warnings, but many Netflix Originals still contain gratuitous amounts of nudity or graphic sexual violence which are triggering for survivors and which normalize sexploitation without addressing the very real harms. ”

OnlyFans “OnlyFans makes money off of vulnerable people’s bodies – especially the bodies of women and minors. Exploiting financial insecurities deepened by the COVID19 crisis, OnlyFans promises fast cash, empowerment, and even fame. While ‘Fans’ may pay fees for nude images, videos, and livestreams, it is the ‘creators’ who pay the high price of psychological, emotional, and physical harm that the sex industry imparts. ”

Reddit “Reddit, known as the “front page of the Internet,” has become a hub of exploitation where sex buyers and other sexual predators meet to exchange non-consensually shared intimate images, hardcore pornography, and to give advice to each other about how to use and abuse. Prostitution, sex trafficking, and child sexual abuse material is also easily found on the site because Reddit refuses to institute strong policies and, despite being worth $3 billion, refuses to spend money on moderators and technology solutions to reduce sexual abuse and exploitation material surfacing on their site.”

SeekingArrangement “SeekingArrangement is a “sugar dating” platform, “sugar dating” being just another term for prostitution. This company targets college students and people suffering from the economic uncertainty of COVID-19 in order to groom them to be sexually used by wealthier, older men. While the Apple App Store does not carry this prostitution app, Google Play does.”

Twitter “Sexual exploitation is rampant on Twitter. Twitter allows countless posts and accounts that function as advertisements for the trading of child sexual abuse materials (i.e. “child pornography”), sex trafficking, prostitution, and pornography. Twitter also fails to adequately respond to child abuse and sex trafficking victims when they are being exploited on the platform.”

Verisign “Seventy percent of all webpages identified as containing child sexual abuse images were found on .com and .net domains according to the 2019 report from The Internet Watch Foundation. Verisign, a publicly traded U.S. company with annual revenues exceeding $1.23 billion, has exclusive management over the .com and .net generic top-level domains. While some other registries and registrars are working to disrupt domains associated with child sexual abuse material, Verisign refuses to take meaningful action and instead inhibits attempts to protect children.”

Wish “Wish, a top ten retail shopping website and app used by over 500 million people, is one of the few mainstream corporations still working with the world’s biggest sexual abusers— MindGeek and Pornhub—even though child sexual abuse material, depictions of actual rape and sex trafficking, and non-consensually shared intimate videos abound on the websites. Not only that, but Wish’s profits rest on the marketing of child-like sex dolls, spycams advertised as useful for filming women nude without permission, and misogynistic apparel. Wish is shopping made exploitative.”

The Watchlist

Some companies have been taken off the Dirty Dozen, list like TikTok.

“We are also highlighting entities on our Watchlist – Snapchat, TikTok, and Visa – as they have made some improvements within the last year, but still have steps to take to fully confront and end harmful business practices with the appropriate urgency these issues demand,” Nealon said. 

Snapchat – “A third of US teens named Snapchat as their favorite social networking app. Unfortunately, this popular platform has been used by sex traffickers and predators to groom, abuse, and sell people, including kids.  Children as young as 13 have also been exposed to graphic sexual content through Snapchat’s Discover stories as sexual abuse, pornography, and prostitution accounts proliferate on the site. Snapchat’s made improvement recently, but it can still do much more to protect minors. ”

TikTok “TikTok has close to a billion monthly users – and many of them are minors. This incredibly popular app was considered a predator’s playground, as the platform enabled easy access to children by strangers. We applaud several major changes TikTok made in 2020 which include enhanced safety features for teens and extensive Community Guidelines. It is encouraging progress, but it is still too early to tell how well these changes will be implemented and we remain concerned about the extent of harmful content accessible by young users.”

Visa “Visa rightly cut ties with Pornhub in 2020 after public outcry regarding the rampant sex trafficking and abuse videos on the porn website. However, Visa intentionally re-initiated a relationship with MindGeek (owner of Pornhub) and other pornography websites so long as they only published studio-produced videos. This action legitimizes an inherently abusive and exploitive industry. Further, Visa processes payments for brothels and prostitution websites.”