Anti-sex trafficking advocate disappointed as Instagram reinstates Pornhub account hours after ban

Pornhub’s Instagram account was removed from the platform on June 16 after a post was reported by a user for “nudity or sexual activity,” only to be reinstated the following morning.

The user was sent a notification from Instagram saying it was removing the Pornhub account because of a violation of “community guidelines.” The contents of the reported post are unconfirmed at this time.

News of the pornography giant’s deplatforming was shared via Twitter by anti-trafficking advocate Laila Mickelwait, founder of Traffickinghub, a group dedicated to exposing sexual exploitation on Pornhub. 

BREAKING: Instagram just deleted Porhub’s account. #Traffickinghub #Winning pic.twitter.com/deede9EmoG

— Laila Mickelwait (@LailaMickelwait) June 17, 2021

“I went to the Instagram Pornhub account, following the official link through Google, and it was gone. 12.5 million followers on the account and it had been completely disabled,” said Mickelwait in an interview with CTV.

But by the next morning, the account was back online.

“I know a lot of advocates aren’t happy about that, and they’re contacting Instagram to have them reinstate that ban,” Mickelwait added.

When questioned why the account was removed from Instagram and subsequently restored, a spokesperson for parent-company Facebook said only that the “account was removed in error and has now been restored.”

Facebook, which acquired Instagram in 2012, has yet to specify what kind of error caused the account to be deleted and whether or not Pornhub violated Instagram’s community guidelines.

Mickelwait says that, error or no error, Pornhub and parent-company Mindgeek should be prohibited from promoting themselves on platforms like Instagram and Facebook in the first place.

“Instagram and Facebook should not be platforming a criminal enterprise that exploits, for profit, women, men and children around the world,” she said.

Mickelwait is referring to a series of incidents wherein sexually explicit videos of minors were allegedly shared on Pornhub, as well as videos of unconsensual sex and revenge porn.

Pornhub has yet to respond to our requests for comment regarding the removal and reinstatement of its Instagram page but a spokesperson said in an email to CTV News that the platform has "zero tolerance for illegal content and investigates any complaint or allegation made about content on our platforms."

Pornhub has been at the centre of much controversy in recent years, with advocates accusing the site of profiting from sexual exploitation, include child sex abuse.

On June 17 — the same day Pornhub’s Instagram account returned to the platform — a lawsuit was filed against Mindgeek on behalf of over 30 women who accuse the company of violating federal sex trafficking laws, distributing child pornography and racketeering, among other claims.