Mastercard and Visa cut off payments to Pornhub

The company said it found illegal content on the site.

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Karissa Bell
December 10th, 2020
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pornhub is no longer able to accept payments from Mastercard. The credit card company says it’s axing its relationship with the website after finding illegal content on the site. 

“Today, the use of our cards at Pornhub is being terminated,” Mastercard told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, whose investigation into Pornhub lead to calls for prominent companies to sever ties to the site. “Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content.... we continue to investigate potential illegal content on other websites.”

Earlier in the week, Pornhub said it would require users to verify their identity before uploading videos and that it would ban users’ ability to download videos. Pressure has mounted on the company after Kristof’s investigation found the company doesn’t do enough to prevent videos of sexual assault from appearing on its platform.

Mastercard and Visa both pledged to investigate their relationship with Pornhub parent company MindGeek after the article was published.

Update 12/10 5pm ET: Visa has also cut off Pornhub while it continues to investigate, the company said in a statement.

Given the allegations of illegal activity, Visa is suspending Pornhub’s acceptance privileges pending the completion of our ongoing investigation. We are instructing the financial institutions who serve MindGeek to suspend processing of payments through the Visa network. At Visa, we are vigilant in our efforts to stamp out illegal activity on our network, and we encourage our financial institution partners to regularly review their merchants’ compliance of our standards on this and other platforms.

Pornhub responded to the credit card companies’ actions, calling them “exceptionally disappointing.”

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 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.

Update 12/11 7pm ET: Discover says it will no longer accept payments from Pornhub. “We require our financial institution partners to monitor for and prevent card acceptance at merchants that allow illegal or any other prohibited activities that violate our operating standards,” the company said in a statement. “When Discover determines merchants are offering prohibited activity, we promptly terminate card acceptance through the offending merchant’s financial institution.”

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