Field report: Visa, Mastercard, Discover: reject Pornhub and trafficking

Midgeek demonstration, London, October 2020

Goal:

To call on credit card companies, Visa, Mastercard and Discover, to stop processing payments on Pornhub’s website as Pornhub refuses to promptly remove content flagged as trafficking and rape or implement an effective age and consent verification system on its site.

Pornhub is one of the world’s largest porn sites and it’s been getting away with profiting from horrific video content depicting trafficking survivors’ rape and abuse. Since 2019, several shocking cases of trafficking and child rape films have been hosted on Pornhub.

A 15-year-old girl who had been trafficked and had gone missing for a year was finally found after her mother was tipped off that her daughter was being featured in videos on the site — 58 such videos of her rape and sexual abuse were discovered on Pornhub.

Summary:

Visa, Mastercard and Discover all process payments on Pornhub’s site, facilitating the uploading of content by traffickers where it can then be viewed and consumed by millions, increasing Pornhub’s profits off the back of extreme sexual abuse and torture of trafficking victims.

With an estimated 42 billion visits and 6 million videos uploaded every year, and no robust regulation in place, it is almost impossible for Pornhub to ensure that traffickers are not uploading criminal content to their site. Pornhub has shown clear reluctance to remove content flagged as rape and trafficking, despite pleas from survivors.

Freedom United launched the campaign sending message to credit card companies urging them to cut ties with Pornhub in May 2020, supporting the #Traffickinghub exclusively to call for Pornhub to implement measures to prevent the exploitation of victims of traffickingClick here to read our in-depth briefing on trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Whilst there are measures Pornhub could have put in place to reduce the risk of child trafficking content being shared on their site, such as requiring proof of government-issued ID for all content, they chose not to and failed to do everything in their power to prevent this crime.

In May 2020, we wrote to Visa, Mastercard and Discover resulting in conversations with Mastercard regarding Pornhub’s trafficking links and their plans to step away from Pornhub. In October 2020, we joined a demonstration outside Pornhub’s parent company’s offices, Mindgeek, in London, calling them out for facilitating trafficking on Pornhub’s site.

Despite mounting evidence of footage of trafficking victims being shared on Pornhub, Mindgeek said in a statement:

Pornhub has a steadfast commitment to eradicating and fighting non-consensual content and under-age material. Any suggestion otherwise is categorically and factually inaccurate.

Outcome:

The Freedom United community sent 19,188 messages to Visa, Mastercard and Discover urging them to cut ties with Pornhub and avoid being complicit in trafficking. By December 15, 2020, all three credit card companies had suspended processing payments on Pornhub’s site. Mastercard has severed ties with Pornhub and Visa has suspended the use of their cards on the site pending an internal investigation into content on Pornhub.

Discover said in a statement:

We require our financial institution partners to monitor for and prevent card acceptance at merchants that allow illegal or any other prohibited activities that violate our operating standards. When Discover determines merchants are offering prohibited activity, we promptly terminate card acceptance through the offending merchant’s financial institution.

Pressure from the Freedom United community, the #Traffickinghub campaign and high-profile media investigations into illegal content on Pornhub pushed Pornhub to implement changes to their site including only allowing verified users to post videos, banning downloads and increasing moderation of content.

We expect Pornhub’s content moderation systems to effectively prevent the monetization of trafficking survivors’ experiences before payments from credit card companies resume.

Thank you to everyone who took action to ask credit card companies to #DeclinePornhub.

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Whocares
Whocares
3 months ago

Well… our mind is clear and in peace because VISA and alike now apparently check there are no slaves in the trade…but we do not say a word against pornographic prostitution, young women abuse, unhealthy sexual practices… and much much more in the sordid world of pornography. What kind of society are we?

Linda Nel
Linda Nel
5 months ago

Great work.. Thank you for your commitment ❤️🙏