MasterCard, Visa investigating Pornhub over allegations of child sexual abuse content on site


Credit card giants Visa and Mastercard said Sunday that they are investigating their business relationship with Pornhub amid allegations claiming that the popular online pornography website allows child sexual abuse materials on its site.

A statement from MasterCard, which currently allows payments for the site’s offerings, said it is working with the company’s Montreal-based parent firm Mindgeek to understand the situation.

The statement said MasterCard has zero tolerance for illegal activity on its network and works with law enforcement and other groups to detect and prevent illegal transactions. MasterCard said if the claims are substantiated, it will take immediate action.

Pornhub attracts billions of monthly visits for videos, some of which a New York Times investigation alleges involve child sexual assaults and exploitations. The column, written by Nicholas Kristof, described videos on Pornhub that the author said were recordings of assaults on unconscious women and girls.

“The issue is not pornography but rape. Let’s agree that promoting assaults on children or on anyone without consent is unconscionable,” Kristof wrote in the column published on Friday.

Kristof’s column also drew reactions from politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said his government was working with police and security officials to address the issues it raised.

In a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday, Pornhub said it is “irresponsible and flagrantly untrue” to suggest that it allows images of the sexual abuse of children on its site. Pornhub added that it employs moderators to screen every upload and that it removes illegal material.

Visa said it is aware of the allegations and is “actively engaging with the relevant financial institutions to investigate,” while also engaging directly with MindGeek.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

The online payment service PayPal last year stopped processing payments to Pornhub. American Express said company policy prohibits the Amex card from being used on “digital adult content websites.