Massive blow for Pornhub as Visa stops handling cash over illegal video claims

Pornhub could start struggling for cash very soon, as the card company Visa will no longer handle its ad payments.

Visa, which is currently facing a US court case over claims it enabled Pornhub to profit from child porn and non-consensual images, is refusing to accept payments for the adult site's ad wing TrafficJunky.

The end to ad payments follow an earlier suspension on card payments to Pornhub by Visa after it was found that illegal videos were being circulated on the site.

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Visa and Pornhub's parent company MindGeek are currently being sued by a woman who alleges that in 2014, when she was 13, a boyfriend posted an explicit video of her to Pornhub that had 400,000 views.

After getting the video removed by informing Mindgeek that "the video qualified as child pornography", it was re-uploaded 'several times' with one upload being viewed 2.7 million times.

Lawyers say her life "spiralled out of control" as a result of the video uploads, with her becoming suicidal, addicted to heroin, and homeless.

The court case alleges that Mindgeek earned advertising money and 'profited' from the videos and, as VISA processes payments for Mindgeek, it played a role in facilitating this.

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Visa has strongly denied the claims. In a statement, the company's CEO Alfred Kelly Jr. said the firm's role had been 'mischaracterised' and said that the allegations are 'repugnant'.

He said: "Let me be clear: Visa condemns sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse. It is illegal, and Visa does not permit the use of our network for illegal activity.

"Our rules explicitly and unequivocally prohibit the use of our products to pay for content that depicts nonconsensual sexual behaviour or child sexual abuse. He added that the firm is 'vigilant' in its efforts to deter this.

Last month, MindGeek's CEO resigned. The company told the BBC that it has zero tolerance for illegal content on its platforms, banned uploads from unverified users, and expanded its moderation process. It also said that any allegations that it does not take the elimination of illegal material seriously is 'categorically false'.

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However, a Californian judge said in a pre-trial hearing that "the Court can infer a strong possibility that Visa's network was involved in at least some advertisement transactions relating directly to Plaintiff's videos".

Judge Carney added: "the Court can comfortably infer that Visa intended to help MindGeek monetize child porn from the very fact that Visa continued to provide MindGeek the means to do so and knew MindGeek was indeed doing so.

"Put yet another way, Visa is not alleged to have simply created an incentive to commit a crime, it is alleged to have knowingly provided the tool used to complete a crime." The trial continues.

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