Visa, Mastercard to stop allowing cards to be used on Pornhub

Visa credit cards are displayed in Washington in this October 27, 2009, file photo. Visa Inc's adjusted profit topped Wall... JASON REED July 25, 2012 07:37pm EDT
Visa credit cards are displayed in Washington in this October 27, 2009, file photo. Visa Inc's adjusted profit topped Wall... JASON REED July 25, 2012 07:37pm EDT | Reuters/Jason Reed

Credit companies Visa and Mastercard announced that they'll no longer allow their cards to be used on Pornhub following a report that the website profits from rape and abuse victims. 

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a piece detailing how many minors have had videos of their rape and abuse uploaded to Pornhub.

Following the report, Visa announced on Twitter that it was temporarily suspending its business with Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek pending further investigation.

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“Given the allegations of illegal activity, Visa is suspending Pornhub’s acceptance privileges pending the completion of our ongoing investigation,” tweeted VisaNews on Thursday.

“We are instructing the financial institutions who serve MindGeek to suspend processing of payments through the Visa network.”

Mastercard spokesperson Seth Eisen told The Verge in an interview Thursday that the company would also stop allowing its cards to be used on Pornhub and would be conducting its own investigation.

“Today, the use of our cards at Pornhub is being terminated. Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site,” Eisen said.

“As a result, and in accordance with our policies, we instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance. In addition, we continue to investigate potential illegal content on other websites to take the appropriate action.”

In The New York Times piece, Kristof detailed how underage individuals have had videos of their rape and sexual abuse uploaded to Pornhub and then downloaded by numerous users.

“After a 15-year-old girl went missing in Florida, her mother found her on Pornhub — in 58 sex videos. Sexual assaults on a 14-year-old California girl were posted on Pornhub and were reported to the authorities not by the company but by a classmate who saw the videos,” wrote Kristof.

“In each case, offenders were arrested for the assaults, but Pornhub escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them.”

For its part, after the column was published, Pornhub announced that it was implementing new measures aimed at curbing the problem of sexual violence on its website.

These included only allowing verified users to upload content, a ban on downloading videos, and having nonprofits monitor content for any illegal activity.

“At Pornhub, nothing is more important than the safety of our community. Our core values such as inclusivity, freedom of expression and privacy are only possible when our platform is trusted by our users,” stated the website. “This is why we have always been committed to eliminating illegal content, including non-consensual material and child sexual abuse material. Every online platform has the moral responsibility to join this fight, and it requires collective action and constant vigilance.”

According to Gail Dines, who provided some of the source material for the NY Times report, Pornhub's statement is a "smokescreen," and a public relations push to claim that the company will change. 

In an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham Thursday night, Dines said thousands of "incest porn" videos are still up on the website under various categories, as well as "teen porn."

Dines said that if Pornhub was actually going to remove all abuse videos from its website, "there would be nothing left" because all pornography is "based on violence against women and the dehumanization and degradation of women and children."

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