How low can India sink? That’s the question staring at us today, among others. In the face of tragedy, people are brought together, but this time India’s response to the latest human rights tragedy is revolting, to say the least.

A Sickening Trend

A few social media posts today highlighted what sounded like fake news at first. Asifa is trending on Xvideos, the most visited porn site in India.

This is as bad as it gets – and possibly as low as India can sink.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contrary to rumors, there are no videos on Asifa’s death on any porn site. Asifa is trending as a search term on some sites, For As Yet Unknown Reasons.

Last week, at least a bank employee in India was fired for celebrating Asifa’s death, what do we with the thousands who have apparently searched for her on Xvideos?

India’s apathy for the dead is not uncommon – the pain and anguish is usually forgotten in a month. A few candle-light vigils do not change how most Indians feel about women and how they treat women in their daily lives. This includes their reaction to the biggest story of violence against women in India.

One would think the rape and murder of an 8-year-old would be treated with the respect it deserves, and with greater acrimony than before. The horror of this latest shame deserved all of India’s ire, but this reaction is a body blow to anyone who had hope of India turning the corner on women’s rights, child abuse and xenophobia, anytime soon.

At the time of writing, Asifa was the top trend on Xvideos in India, and the second most-popular trend in Pakistan. In Bangladesh, it was the third most-popular trend. We also searched for trending topics in other countries such as Russia, United States, Germany and Sri Lanka but none of these countries showed the search term as a trend.

Xvideos and XNXX Connection

One of the fields exploding in recent times is establishing relationships between online chatter to determine where a particular viral video or a new trend inflected from. Naturally people are wondering where did the Asifa trend appear on Xvideos? An even bigger question is why? 

The only video that Xvideos shows does not have any tags that should show it as a search result for Asifa
The only video that Xvideos shows does not have any tags that should show it as a search result for Asifa

Just one video is shown as a search result for Asifa, or when you click on the Asifa trend. The video does not have an Asifa tag, nor is the name mentioned in its title. The only mention of Asifa in the entire code of the page, which we checked on Google Chrome, is from the referrer URL from the search results page.

So we wanted to know why Xvideos is showing this video as a search result? Our attempts to reach Xvideos were futile. The company’s content takedown form did not let us enter a search URL which is the only way to report the Asifa trend. It only accepted video or profile URLs.

We tried to report the video shown in the search results, but this was also deflected by Xvideo, and the error messages said video has supposedly been uploaded by a Verified User, and hence cannot be reported.

Error message when attempting to report the content on XVideo
Error message when attempting to report the content on Xvideo

Xvideos’ ownership is famously murky; it’s registered to a Polish company named WGCZ Holdings and its owners, according to court filings, are Stephane Michael Pacaud and Deborah Malorie Pacaud, who are also behind for XNXX – as this excellent The Next Web investigation showed.

Any doubt about the link between XNXX and Xvideos should be cleared by the fact that the same video shows up as search results for Asifa on both sites.

Incidentally, XNXX is India’s third-most popular porn site, with PornHub in second place. So it’s quite obvious that the team at WGCZ has a great understanding of what works in India and what doesn’t.

Questions for Xvideos

Another thing to consider is there’s no way to know how Xvideos picks its trending topics. Does it cross-reference search terms across Google and other search engines to determine popularity? Does it use search algorithms to determine what goes in the first spot for any country? Did people actually enter Asifa as a search term on Xvideos?

There are a lot of questions and unfortunately it looks like Xvideos may not answer them. After all, the company does not have a good history of going on record about its mechanisms. Our hope is that a collective outrage might force them to break that norm. We urge our readers to use every possible avenue of contacting Xvideos to take down the offensive trending topic.