NEW DETAILS: Pornhub accused of allowing child rape videos

Two major American credit card companies have announced separate investigations into their possible links to Pornhub after an exposé in The New York Times last week accused the adult website of featuring child rape videos.

Credit: Social media photo via Twitter

Combined ShapeCaption
Two major American credit card companies have announced separate investigations into their possible links to Pornhub after an exposé in The New York Times last week accused the adult website of featuring child rape videos.

Credit: Social media photo via Twitter

Major credit card companies investigating possible links to popular adult website

Pornhub has announced that it will begin blocking unverified users from uploading videos and ban users from making downloads after shocking allegations emerged last week of rampant child pornography on its website.

A day earlier, two major American credit card companies announced separate investigations into their possible links to Pornhub after an exposé in The New York Times on Friday accused the popular adult site of featuring child rape videos.

The column, written by Nicholas Kristof, appeared in last Friday’s Times, and by Monday had prompted Visa and Mastercard to launch an internal audit with the goal of uncovering any financial ties to MindGeek, Pornhub’s parent company.

»OCTOBER: Netflix faces criminal charges for film with girls

Among the most disturbing claims, Kristof pointedly alleges the website is rife with rape videos that show nonconsensual sexual violence against children. Further, he asserts the website “monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.”

Some of the victims may have been unconscious during the assaults, the report alleges.

Pornhub, which outpaces Netflix, Yahoo or Amazon with 3.5 billion visitors per month, denied the allegations and on Monday and said it was “unequivocally committed to combating child sexual abuse material, and has instituted a comprehensive, industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community,” according to the Times.

In a blog post Tuesday, the company listed steps it was taking to further protect against images of abuse and nonconsensual activity on its site, according to The Associated Press.

Pornhub said next year it will announce ways in which individuals can become verified users. It will still allow new material from partners it knows, such as porn production companies.

Pornhub said it has hired a law firm to conduct an independent review of its content, has moderators who examine each video that is posted to the site and works with 40 organizations with a focus on child safety to monitor what it posts.

»NOVEMBER: Former officer charged in Breonna Taylor case accused of rape

The Kristof column points out that Pornhub, like YouTube, allows the public to submit videos to its website, but only Pornhub allows the videos to be downloaded.

Most of the 6.8 million videos posted to Pornhub every year depict consensual sex acts, Kristof reported, but many others he found crossed the line into victimization. The company said Tuesday that it could not determine what percentage of its videos originate from unverified users, the AP reported.

Among numerous cases of potential sex trafficking, Kristof’s report describes a missing 15-year-old Florida girl who was ultimately found after her mother discovered her in 58 Pornhub sex videos. In another case, the writer claims a 14-year-old California girl appeared in several Pornhub videos, which was only reported to authorities after a classmate found them.

“In each case, offenders were arrested for the assaults, but Pornhub escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them,” Kristof wrote.

Visa issued a statement Monday that it was “actively engaging with the relevant financial institutions” and representatives of MindGeek about the allegations.

Mastercard also said it was investigating the allegations and working alongside bankers for MindGeek who would know if payments had been processed from Pornhub, the Times reported.

“If the claims are substantiated, we will take immediate action,” Mastercard said. “When we identify illegal activity, our policy is to ask the acquirer to terminate the relationship, unless an effective compliance plan is put in place.”

Visa and Mastercard operate on a ubiquitous scale and have become “vigilant” about tracking down and eliminating criminal elements from their networks, according to the Times.

Visa works with 61 million merchants and moves nearly $12 trillion through the financial system in a year, the Times reported.

Other payment companies have policies that altogether prevent their services from being used to purchase sexual content.

American Express won’t allow their cards to pay for “adult digital content,” the Times reported, and PayPal “prohibits all account holders from buying or selling sexually oriented digital goods,” including videos, pictures and subscriptions.

Last year, PayPal barred Pornhub, and providers of videos to the site, from making and accepting payments through PayPal. After that, Pornhub added new payment options, including Tether, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency.

Information provided by The New York Times and The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.