Mastercard and Visa pull out of Pornhub after abuse allegations

From: FinTech Global

Visa and Mastercard have cut ties with Pornhub after both payment providers investigated allegations of child sexual abuse.

Both financial services firms had initially started to look into the MindGeek-owned pornography site after a New York Times column alleged that the website distributed videos depicting child abuse and non-consensual violence.

Pornhub has maintained that any accusation that it is allowing material depicting violence against children is untrue.

Following the initial investigation, Mastercard said that it had “confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site” in a statement sent to Bloomberg. It added that it would continue to investigate illegal content on other websites.

“We instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance,” Mastercard added.

Similarly, Visa stated, “At Visa, we are vigilant in our efforts to stamp out illegal activity on our network, and we encourage our financial institution partners to regularly review their merchants’ compliance of our standards on this and other platforms.”

The MindGeek-owned site had already responded to the allegations levied against it in the New York Times article by introducing new rules for posting on the streaming platform, saying that its new restrictions were even more far-reaching than those on Facebook.

“These actions are exceptionally disappointing, as they come just two days after Pornhub instituted the most far-reaching safeguards in user-generated platform history,” Pornhub said in a statement sent to Vice.

“Unverified users are now banned from uploading content – a policy no other platform has put in place, including Facebook, which reported 84 million instances of child sexual abuse material over the last three years. In comparison, the Internet Watch Foundation reported 118 incidents on Pornhub over the last three years. This news is crushing for the hundreds of thousands of models who rely on our platform for their livelihoods.”

Models who use the site have been asking the platform to make these changes for a long time.

Reactions have poured in since the announcement that Mastercard and Visa were pulling out of their collaboration with Pornhub.

US republican senator Josh Hawley welcomed the news, tweeting that “every other credit card company should immediately do the same.”

On Wednesday, Hawley reportedly joined senators Maggie Hassan, Joni Ernst and Thom Tillis in introducing a bipartisan bill to make it easier for rape victims to sue porn companies that profit from videos of their assaults.

Similarly and following Pornhub’s rule change, democratic senator Jeff Merkley called for new regulation.

“This is welcome news from Pornhub, whose practices resulted in the destructive humiliation and abuse of thousands of children across our country and the world,” he tweeted. “But self-regulation is not enough. Those horrific practices must end, and I will introduce legislation to do so.”

In Canada, which is home to MindGeek, prime minister Justin Trudeau has reportedly stated that his government is developing new regulations for these platforms as well.

Another Twitter user addressed Nicholas Kristof, who wrote the original New York Times column, Visa and Mastercard, saying, “[As] a survivor, I burst into tears having my experience validated on such a scale. Thank you for not hesitating and standing with survivors. Something deep heals when we are believed without question. Whatever this decision cost you, it was worth it.”

However, some people noted that this wasn’t the first time that a financial services firm cut ties with Pornhub.

In November 2019, PayPal pulled the plug on its affiliation with the website, citing a review that had found that the adult entertainment site had made certain payments without permission from PayPal.

At the time, Pornhub argued that the decision risked raising the stigma against sex workers.

Now, some people fear that Visa and Mastercard’s decision could make things worse for sex workers and for the freedom of the internet.

“[Once] again the sirens are sounding but only sex workers can hear them,” Twitter user all lash no breaks said. “Visa and Mastercard pulling out of Pornhub means incredibly bad shit for the freedom of the internet.”

Others, like Carrie A. Goldberg, lawyer at law firm C.A. Goldberg, believed that the calls for action against Pornhub wouldn’t solve the problem of pictures and videos depicting assault from being circulated as long at the big tech firms remained unchecked.

“I’m a victims rights lawyer,” she commented. “For every [single] case involving a rape tape on Pornhub, I have 50 involving rape and CSAM being disseminated on [Instagram] and [Facebook]. Pornhub is far from perfect. But mainstream big tech is far worse and have a built-in mechanism for harassing victims directly.”

Others suggested that this would be the perfect opportunity for Pornhub to introduce more cryptocurrency solutions.

Enjoyed the story? 

Subscribe to our weekly RegTech newsletter and get the latest industry news & research

Copyright © 2018 RegTech Analyst


The following investor(s) were tagged in this article.