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MasterCard, Visa end card use on Pornhub after allegations of illegal content


MONTREAL — Payments companies MasterCard and Visa say they will no longer allow their cards to be used on Pornhub, a website owned by the Montreal-based company Mindgeek.

Pornhub came under fire last week after the New York Times reported that the website hosts videos of child sexual assaults and exploitations, prompting Visa and MasterCard to investigate their relationship with the site.

"Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site," said Seth Eisen, a MasterCard spokesman. "As a result, and in accordance with our policies, we instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance."

Visa said Thursday afternoon that its investigation is ongoing, but it is suspending Pornhub’s acceptance privileges pending its completion. 

Pornhub denies there is illegal content on its site, saying it employs moderators to screen every video upload. In response to the backlash, Pornhub said earlier this week that it would ban unverified users from uploading content to the website.

Pornhub said in a statement Thursday that the moves by Visa and MasterCard are "exceptionally disappointing, as they come just two days after Pornhub instituted the most far-reaching safeguards in user-generated platform history." 

"This news is crushing for the hundreds of thousands of models who rely on our platform for their livelihoods," Pornhub added.

Mindgeek is a conglomerate that owns more than 100 websites, production companies and brands. Pornhub itself is one of the most highly frequented pornography sites, with more than 100 million daily visits and more than 36 billion visits per year, according to the company.

The allegations against Pornhub have prompted reactions from politicians including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said his government was working with police and security officials to investigate.

MasterCard is also investigating potential illegal content on other websites, the company said.

PayPal stopped payment services to Pornhub last year and American Express said earlier this week that it has a long-standing policy that prevents card acceptance on adult websites.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2020.

Jon Victor, The Canadian Press

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