Visa, Mastercard end card use on Pornhub amid allegations of illegal content

Both Visa and Mastercard say they are no longer allowing their cards to be used on Pornhub amid allegations of illegal content on the site. 

The decision comes in response to a report in The New York Times alleging that videos of rape and underage sex can be found on the pornographic site. Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at the Times, wrote Friday that Pornhub carries rape scenes and other examples of explicit video taken without consent of the participants. 

The report prompted the credit card giants this week to investigate their business relationship with Pornhub. 

Mastercard said Thursday in a statement that its investigation “has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content” on Pornhub — and that it was ending use of their cards on the site. 

“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,” the company said. 

Visa said Thursday that it was also suspending use of its card on Pornhub “pending the completion of our ongoing investigation” in response to the Times report.

“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,” Visa said in a statement.

A file image taken Jan. 25, 2018 shows the Pornhub logo displayed at the company's booth during the 2018 AVN Adult Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)

Pornhub said that it doesn't knowingly allow images of sexual abuse of children. But, in a blog post on Tuesday, the company listed steps it was taking to further protect against images of abuse and non-consensual activity on its site.

Pornhub said next year it will announce ways in which individuals can become verified users. It will still allow new material from partners it knows, like porn production companies. The website has a huge volume of material: 6.8 million new videos were uploaded last year. The company could not say what percentage of that was from unverified users.

Pornhub said it has hired a law firm to conduct an independent review of its content, has moderators that examine each video that is posted to the site and works with 40 organizations with a focus on child safety to monitor what it posts.

The company said that “every online platform has the moral responsibility” to join in the fight against depictions of child sexual abuse or non-consensual activity.

The site also said it was banning users from downloading material from its site.

The online payment service PayPal last year stopped processing payments to Pornhub, which is owned by the pornography conglomerate MindGeek. In his column, Kristof criticized other card issuers for working with the site.

Pornhub said it had more than 42 billion visits to its website last year, an average of 115 million a day.

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.