porn

BangBros Is Staging a Public Relations Campaign Against Mia Khalifa

The porn company claims to have filed a cease and desist against Khalifa, in response to her comments about her experience with the company.
11 July 2020, 4:56am
​Screenshot via BangBros' site about Mia Khalifa
Screenshot via BangBros' site about Mia Khalifa

In mid-June, Mia Khalifa posted a TikTok video of herself looking morose around the house with the caption "That hourly dissociative attack from remembering hundreds of millions of people's only impression of you is solely based on the lowest, most toxic, most uncharacteristic 3 months of your life when you were 21."

In that video, Khalifa—now a social media personality and sports commentator—is referring to her time in the porn industry, beginning in 2014. She's been outspoken about the ways sex worker stigma has affected her life for years. Last year, she tweeted that she'd only made $12,000 from her time in porn, a number that's shockingly low for someone who was once the top-searched name on Pornhub, and still a top ranked performer on the site.

Now, the porn studio BangBros—one of the companies she performed for on contract in 2014—has set up a website dedicated to countering the claims she's made about her time in the industry.

The site, registered on Monday, states:

"Although Mia makes many false statements, innuendos, and accusations, we have tried to stay silent and allow Mia to have her publicity stunt without responding. Mia has taken our silence as an 'all clear' to not only continue but ramp up her false statements. We therefore have no choice but to respond to the most glaring, objectively false statements. The following are facts over Mia’s fiction."

The design of the site is similar to that of a negative political ad, with edited footage turned black-and-white. BangBros suggests that it believes Khalifa has manufactured outrage at the company in order to raise her own profile, and published Google Trend results tied to news events in order to attempt to illustrate this.

The site features a claim-by-claim list, including statements from BangBros saying that Khalifa "received in excess of $178,000.00 from BangBros and its affiliated entities alone" (BangBros did not publish any receipts or financial documentation to back up its claims) and that she was actually in the adult industry for more than two years, working with other producers before she worked with BangBros. The site supports many of these statements with video clips of Khalifa allegedly contradicting her current position, but according to BangBros, the clips were taken from "a live cam session tip show, where Mia was interacting with fans on Naked.com," meaning she was still in the industry.

A spokesperson for BangBros told Motherboard that it set up the site after seeing Khalifa's comments over the last few months about her relationship with the company on social media.

"Because it was not possible to publish the facts on Twitter or Instagram in an easy to read and understand format, we created the website," they said. "We kept external links on the site to a minimum, since this is not intended as a marketing strategy—just an honest report of what’s been left out or previously misreported."

On June 29, BangBros tweeted that it had sent Khalifa a cease and desist "some of her defamatory, false statements." It has not publicly shared a copy of that cease and desist.

BangBros also posted a video that features some of the clips and statements from the standalone site on Wednesday, titled The Truth About Mia Khalifa.

Years after she left the industry, BangBros is still making money from Khalifa’s content. There are 11 videos of Mia Khalifa still up on the BangBros site, which have accumulated 1,331,691 views in total, according to the site. BangBros makes its money partially from a subscription model on BangBros.com, but it also has other sites that are dedicated only to Khalifa's content. There's also a Pornhub channel devoted to Khalifa's BangBros content that BangBros operates. Videos on that channel have gathered more than 642,000,000 views, as of writing.

"[BangBros'] revenues are generated from monthly membership fees that are paid for access to its most recent content, as well as historical scenes," a spokesperson for BangBros said. "These historical scenes include content in which Mia appears."

Khalifa has been open about the effect her time in the porn industry had on her, the regrets she has about it, and the feeling that she was taken advantage of. While it's acceptable for performers to express personal regret and talk about their lived experiences, and while exploitation and harassment happens, as it does in many industries, others in the adult industry have at times criticized her; porn performers and sex workers in general are stigmatized by society, and are accused by some as having worked in an the industry against their will or out of desperation. This narrative erases the experiences and endangers the safety of many adult, consensual sex workers.

The BangBros website, however, does no one any favors. It’s a big, successful, and well resourced company launching a coordinated public relations campaign against an individual, with social media posts and a dedicated website.

Khalifa didn't immediately respond to our request for comment, and we're currently unable to confirm the claims each side is publicly making.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.