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Mastercard announced that it was severing ties with Pornhub, while Visa said that it was “temporarily suspending payments on the site,” reported Fox News.

The announcements followed an in-depth exposé of the vile and criminal videos available on Pornhub, by Nicholas Kristoff at The New York Times. In an article titled, “The Children of Pornhub,” he wrote, “Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content” and footage of women being murdered.

Searches for videos featuring children and teens leads to more than 100,000 videos. Kristoff said, “Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.” He went on to tell the stories of young women and men who had been sexually abused and exploited, with videos of the events posted on Pornhub, earning money for the Canadian company and for those posting the videos.

In a related effort to call pornography distributers to account, Senator Josh Hawley and a bipartisan group of senators introduced the “Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act of 2020.” The legislation would “give victims of sex trafficking and rape victims the right to seek compensation in federal court if pornography websites distribute intimate photos of them without their consent,” Fox News reported.

Visa’s and Mastercard’s decisions were heralded by Dawn Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). She said in a statement, “Visa and Mastercard have made the right decision to finally cut ties with a profiteer of rape. These companies are now standing on the side of human dignity and we applaud Visa and Mastercard for making this bold step.”

Hawkins and NCOSE have been at the forefront of working for years, trying to sever ties between credit card companies and the pornography industry. Earlier this year, the organization published its “Dirty Dozen List,” implicating companies like Google, Amazon, Netflix and Twitter for profiting from or facilitating sexual exploitation.

This year, NCOSE listed Visa in its hall of shame, saying, “Visa, a credit card network with one of the largest market shares, is partnering with the pornography industry by processing payments for pornography with themes of sexual violence, racism, incest, and the fetishization of minors. By doing so, Visa is supporting and normalizing the pornography industry, despite its sexually exploitive nature including harm to performers, sex trafficking victims, and even large scale public health.”

NCOSE challenged Visa, “Mainstream pornography websites like PornHub, which Visa partners with, have even been caught hosting videos of sex-trafficked women and of a child being sexually abused. Is this the kind of content Visa is willing to endorse?”

In May 2020, the BBC reported that NCOSE and a coalition of more than a dozen international groups sent letters to 10 major credit card companies, including Mastercard, Visa and American Express. The anti-pornography groups asked them to “stop processing payments for the pornography industry, given its extensive promotion of nonconsensual content—including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking videos, rape, and more—and of content eroticizing sexual violence, incest, and racism.”

As part of the campaign, supporters of NCOSE and these anti-sexual exploitation groups sent more than 100,000 emails to Visa, Mastercard, and other international card companies.

Pornhub is owned by the Canadian company Mindgeek, which owns many other pornographic video sharing companies, websites and movie studios. The company employs 800 people and has annual revenues of $800 million. Pornhub is by far Mindgeek’s largest source of income, ranked eighth in the U.S. and tenth in the world among the top websites, with 3.4 billion visits a month.

In an email, Hawkins invited supporters to contact and thank Visa and Mastercard for their decision to cut ties with Pornhub.

She wrote, “Please join us in giving a hearty ‘Thank you!’ to these companies, and to encourage them to continue looking into other pornography sites that still may be hosting videos with themes of violence against women, incest, racism, and videos of forced sex acts, sex trafficking and child sexual abuse victims.”  

Related articles and resources:


Pornhub Falling: Visa and Mastercard Cut Ties with MindGeek’s Cash Cow

Major Contributors to Sexual Exploitation: The Dirty Dozen

The Daily Citizen:

Pornhub Makes Money on Videos of Rape and Assault of Children

Growing Outcry for DOJ to Investigate and Shut Down Pornhub for Obscenity, Child Exploitation and Sex Trafficking

Senator Ben Sasse Calls for Federal Investigation into Pornhub for Facilitating the Exploitation of Women and Minors

Focus on the Family:

Help for victims of sexual abuse and assault

Resources for those struggling with pornography and sexual addiction

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