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Visa/MC Cuts off PornHub Due to Child Pornography

PornHub CutoffBoth Visa and MasterCard cut off payment processing for TrafficJunky, the advertising arm of MindGeek, the proprietor of pornography site PornHub.  There is a pending lawsuit which claims that Visa “knowingly facilitated” MindGeek’s monetization of child pornography.  Visa had asked to be removed from the suit but a California judge disagreed.

Visa lent to MindGeek a much-needed tool — its payment network — with the alleged knowledge that there was a wealth of monetized child porn on MindGeek’s websites.

The court did not find Visa guilty of anything.  Rather, the opinion says that that there was sufficient weight to the allegation that it might be true and hence needed to be tried.

But really, the charge is silly – it’s ridiculous to think that a public company earning billions a year legitimately would undertake the suicidal risk of entering into one of the most repugnant forms of crime just to earn a few million.  What’s really happening is that plaintiffs look for deep pockets.  The court filing on this is typical of these cases (alleging a host of dire events).  Personal injury lawyers are not known for their honesty, nor are judges known for their insight on technology, so it all needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

The story painted in the suit is quite plausible:

  • 13-year-old girl is pressured by her boyfriend into filming an explicit video
  • It’s posted to PornHub with a title that makes it very clear that the girl appearing is underage (“13-Year-Old Brunette Shows Off for the Camera”
  • A third-party organization impersonates the girl’s mother and contacts PornHub to take the video down
  • PornHub does, but without much urgency
  • Meanwhile the video is viewed millions of times, uploaded to other sites, etc.

The story then continues that the girl is bullied, becomes addicted to heroin, etc. – it’s a bit of daytime TV movie and I’m sure there’s more to the story.  Still, it’s impossible not to feel some empathy for the girl involved, because 13-year-olds are 13-year-olds and are not equipped to operate in a world of adult sharks, several of which took advantage of her, including PornHub.

According to news reports, PornHub hosts millions of videos yet hardly polices them.  Quoting the plaintiff:

MindGeek employed a barebones team of “as few as 6 but never more than about 30 untrained, minimum wage contractors” to monitor the millions of daily uploads. This team was clearly understaffed, but also perversely incentivized: they were offered pay bonuses that depended on the number of videos they approved for upload.  Such an incentive structure suggests that content moderation was not the goal.

One would think that something as blatantly labeled as “13-Year-Old Brunette Shows Off for the Camera” would be flagged algorithmically.  It’d be one thing if there were a few isolated cases where child pornography was buried inside otherwise legal porn, etc. but this is like opening a magazine stand and putting a sign out that says “Child Pornography Bin”.  How could PH not see this one?

And of course it’s not an isolated case.  Visa (and MasterCard) are taking action to cut any future liability.

Mindgeek’s CEO and COO both resigned in June.  Legendary investor Bill Ackman reached out after and contacted the CEO of MasterCard.  He says they “took my concern seriously.  Within 5 days, MC had shut down the site.  5 days later Visa followed suit.  Quietly, however, a few weeks later, both Visa and MC reauthorized MindGeek, but no longer allowed BTC payments on the free “tube” sites where anyone can upload content.”





1 Comment

  1. what kind of shit world we living in

    August 8, 2022 @ 1:42 am | Reply

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