Mastercard and Visa have pulled their payment services from the main advertising network used by MindGeek, owner of porn sites including Pornhub, RedTube and YouPorn, after a judge refused to drop Visa as a defendant in an alleged sexual abuse video case.
The two financial organizations and credit card companies will no longer offer payment services for anyone buying adverts via TrafficJunky – MindGeek’s advertising network, through which display and pre-roll advertisements on its porn sites are sold.
In 2020 both Mastercard and Visa removed their payment services from Pornhub, meaning that users could not use their cards to buy subscriptions and access privileges. The move led to accusations that the financial companies were punishing sex workers who rely on porn platforms to make a living, as sites scrambled to implement tougher creator verification and consent rules, to attempt to appease the credit card firms
On August 1, 2022, Vice reported that a US court decreed that Visa could be sued along with MindGeek for harm caused by the alleged non-consensual uploading of a video of a minor. Serena Fleites, the plaintiff, alleges that MindGeek and Visa are responsible for trauma caused to her when an explicit video of her aged 13 was uploaded to Pornhub.
US District Judge Cormac Carney wrote that Fleites “simply has no basis for claiming Visa directly participated in the sex trafficking ventures that harmed her”, but still refused to drop Visa as a defendant.
The judge also wrote that although Visa said it suspended payments for Pornhub in 2020, it “restored services for MindGeek’s paid premium sites and for advertising on all its sites”. Visa said that the payment suspension for user-generated content was still in place.
With the online porn video industry having something of a reckoning in recent years with regards to illegal activity and safety, Visa and Mastercard’s move away from MindGeek’s advertising network is another strike against the mainstream legitimization of the business.
“We have zero tolerance for illegal activity on our network. We will continue to follow this case and take further action, as necessary,” Mastercard said in a statement.