Visa and Mastercard to investigate ties with Pornhub following sex trafficking allegations

CW: This piece on Pornhub contains mentions of sexual assault, revenge porn, and human trafficking.

Credit card conglomerates Visa and Mastercard will investigate their financial links to Pornhub following allegations of child abuse and sexual violence.

New York Times opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof released his landmark investigative report last week which alleges that Pornhub also carries an underbelly of rape scenes, revenge pornography, and other explicit videos taken without consent.

Last year, online payment service PayPal stopped processing payments to Pornhub, which is owned by the pornography conglomerate MindGeek, prompting Kristof to call out other card issuers for working with the site.

Nicholas Kristof
Image: Nicholas Kristof via Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, Kristof condemned Pornhub’s continued sharing and profiting off videos involving serious sexual assaults.

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

Pornhub denied the allegations and told Kristof that it’s fully committed to eradicating abusive material from “our community”.

“Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating child sexual abuse material, and has instituted a comprehensive, industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community,” Pornhub said, adding that any assertion that the company allows CSAM (child sexual abuse material) on the site “is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue.

Now, in response to Kristof’s story, Visa and Mastercard have said they were investigating the matter.

Visa specifically noted that if Pornhub is violating the law or bank policies, then the site will be outright banned from accepting Visa payments.

“We are aware of the allegations, and we are actively engaging with the relevant financial institutions to investigate, in addition to engaging directly with the site’s parent company, MindGeek,” Visa said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Mastercard promised “immediate action” if the allegations were proven.

“We are investigating the allegations raised in the New York Times and are working with MindGeek’s bank to understand this situation,” Mastercard said.

Since PayPal blocked Pornhub and video providers to the site from making and accepting payments last year, Pornhub has added new payment options, including Tether, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency.

The campaign to shut down Pornhub, #Traffickinghub, released an animated video earlier this year exposing how the porn giant allegedly enables and profits from videos of rape, sex trafficking, and other forms of non-consensual abuse on their site.

The #Traffickinghub movement now has over 2 million signatures and provides further details into how others can help survivors and the campaign itself.