Pornhub Loses Credit Card Processors Over New York Times Allegations

credit card companies ban pornhub

After a highly publicized opinion piece in the New York Times about questionable content on Pornhub got viral, the biggest platform for porn on the internet lost its payment processors. It basically means that Mindgeek’s most valuable asset can’t process any credit cards anymore.

Mastercard and Visa decided to cancel their contracts with Pornhub, the world’s biggest adult entertainment platform. The move came abruptly but was anticipated for days after a New York Times opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof titled »The Children of Pornhub« criticized the company in stark terms.

The decision by the credit card issuers means that Pornhub users can no longer pay for the content nor donate to their favorite performers. Kristof’s article successfully tied the platform’s contents to the real-life exploitation of sex workers, willingly as well as forced, going so far that some of the videos would portray child pornography making Mindgeek’s most valuable label accomplice of heinous crimes.

Kristof claims that Pornhub »monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spycam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags… A great majority of the 6.8 million new videos posted on the site each year probably involve consenting adults, but many depict child abuse and non-consensual violence.«

While it is true that sometimes extreme BDSM content and even brutal content has its niche on the platform the article completely ignores the difference between consensual and non-consensual depictions of sexual violence. The basic fact that no internet platform can verify the age of performers in user-generated content seems to be the main argument Kristof is raising against the platform. He said: »Because it’s impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18, neither Pornhub nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal.« That basically applies to any online platform be it porn or mainstream like Facebook or Instagram.

Kristof even seems to suggest blatant untruths. He claims that you could type in keywords like »rape« or »degraded teen« and would get similar content. A simple experiment proved him wrong. The platform tells any user typing in these words that content like this is not available on the website. Nevertheless, the allegations did damage the company’s already questionable reputation.

The New York Times article continues by making the case that the user-uploaded content is not screened and monitored in a sufficient way making it possible for illegal content to remain available for hours, days, and sometimes even weeks even though complaints have been raised.

Even though most of the criticism is overly broad and does not concern Pornhub itself but some of the producers uploading content on the platform, the company immediately took steps to counter the allegations raised by the New York Times.

Pornhub declared that »a newly established ‘Red Team’ will be dedicated solely to self-auditing the platform for potentially illegal material. The Red Team provides an extra layer of protection on top of the existing protocol, proactively sweeping content already uploaded for potential violations and identifying any breakdowns in the moderation process that could allow a piece of content that violates the Terms of Service.« Additionally, Pornhub also wants to »regularly monitor search terms within the platform for increases in phrasings that attempt to bypass the safeguards in place.«

Nevertheless, the public outrage proved to be too explosive and toxic for the two credit card issuers Mastercard and Visa. Both companies declared that they suspended Pornhub from receiving funds from its users through their credit cards.

Mastercard put out a statement saying: »Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site. We instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance.«

Visa, too, issued a public remark concerning the end of its business relationship with Mindgeek: »We are instructing the financial institutions who serve MindGeek to suspend the processing of payments through the Visa network.«

The business magazine Bloomberg also reported that Mastercard will also investigate its business with one of Mindgeek’s biggest competitors, the adult platform XVideos which the New York Times article also attacked. A whole new round of problems for the adult industry seems to be on the horizon. While many payment processors seemed to slowly be getting more open to doing business with adult-related companies, this trend might come to a squeaking halt with Visa and Mastercard suddenly ending all business with one of the biggest players in the industry.

Pornhub and Mindgeek are raising the alarm bell for the community. The company said in a statement: »These actions are exceptionally disappointing, as they come just two days after Pornhub instituted the most far-reaching safeguards in user-generated platform history. 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 (IWF) 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.«

IWF spokeswoman Emma Hardy is echoing Pornhub’s statement: »Everyday sites that you and I might use as social networks or other communications tools, they pose more of an issue of child sexual abuse material than Pornhub does.«

Pornhub added: » Eliminating illegal content and ridding the internet of child sexual abuse material is one of the most crucial issues facing online platforms today, and it requires the unwavering commitment and collective action of all parties.«

They full-heartedly reject any notion by the New York Times article and distance themselves completely from any questionable content: »Due to the nature of our industry, people’s preconceived notions of Pornhub’s values and processes often differ from reality, but it is counterproductive to ignore the facts regarding a subject as serious as CSAM. Any assertion that we allow CSAM is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue. We have zero-tolerance for CSAM. Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating CSAM, and has instituted an industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community.«

Unfortunately, it is highly likely that many performers and studios will be affected by the sudden ban on Mindgeek’s businesses and payment options.


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