Pornhub faces possible loss of Mastercard, Visa payment services after child sex abuse video allegations

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Mastercard and Visa say they’re evaluating their working relationships with pornography giant Pornhub after several allegations against the company and its policies.

The credit card companies’ concerns come after a Sunday “New York Times” piece titled “The Children of Pornhub” examined the site’s reported history of profiting off of user-submitted videos depicting rape, nonconsensual nude videos, videos of sexual violence and pornographic videos of children.

For the article, columnist Nicholas Kristof spoke with several victims who say their sexual assault experiences were filmed and then uploaded to the site. Additionally, the article takes a look at the company’s reported neglect to shut down titles and searches directing users to videos of young children.

While Pornhub, which attracts 3.5 billion visits a month, has taken down videos once they’re reported, the company still profits from the time they were online—but one other feature, victims tell Kristof, allows survivors to be continually traumatized.

Pornhub, which functions as a kind of “YouTube for porn,” allows users to upload their own videos, about 6.8 million every year, according to the NYT. But the site also allows other users to download the videos, meaning even if a video of a child sexual assault or revenge porn is taken down, another user can just upload it again.

A Chinese woman who was trafficked by her adoptive family at the age of 9 told the NYT that she was forced to appear in videos and that years later they still haunt her.

“I’m still getting sold, even though I’m five years out of that life,” she told Kristof.

Now, Pornhub is faced with the possible loss of Mastercard and Visa, which currently allow their services to be used for payment on the site.

In a statement, Visa said, “If the site is identified as not complying with applicable laws or the financial institutions’ acceptable use policies and underwriting standards, they will no longer be able to accept Visa payments.”

Echoing this statement, Mastercard said the company would take immediate action if the claims are substantiated.

Pornhub, owned by pornography giant Mindgeek, responded to the allegations, saying it 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.”

Child pornography in the U.S.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that in 2019, it received reports of 69.2 million files depicting children. That number was only 6.2 million in 2015.

Over 70% of victims say they worry constantly that they’ll be recognized from the videos, a 2017 survey conducted by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection found.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported the videos being shared causes trauma that’s different from the actual abuse.

NCMEC points to two studies on child sexual assault material, or CSAM.

Finding showed:

  • Girls appear in the majority of CSAM
  • Prepubescent children are the most at risk for being exploited
  • While girls appear more often, when boys are victimized they are much more likely to be explicitly or egregiously abused

For resources to report online child sexual exploitation, call NCMEC’s 24-hour hotline at (800) 843-5678 or use their CyberTipline. More resources and education are also available.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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