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Why Have Mastercard and Visa Blocked Pornhub? All You Need to Know about the Porn Site's Dark Side

Pornhub is under the scanner for alleged child abuse and monetizsation of violence against women | Image credit: Reuters

Pornhub is under the scanner for alleged child abuse and monetizsation of violence against women | Image credit: Reuters

A US columnist raised several allegations of Pornhub hosting videos depicting child abuse and child rape, sparking outrage against the porn website.

In a blow to online pornography giant Pornhub, credit card companies Visa and Mastercard have decided to disallow card holders from using it to transact on the platform.

The decision came after reports of illegal content relating to child pornography and rape surfaced against Pornhub.

What is Pornhub?

Pornhub is a pornographic video and content sharing site that has its head office in Canada. It started functioning in 2007 and now posts over 6.8 million new videos posted each year. In 2010, the company was bought by pornography conglomerate MindGeek. Adult viewers need to pay for watching the content by creating monthly paid accounts. The company recently earned praise after it offered free premium subscriptions to “encourage" people to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. It also earned praise for donating surgical masks to essential workers and also donated to anti-racial abuse charities. While the website is available in nearly all countries, some countries such as India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and mainland China have blocked the website.

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Why did Mastercard and Visa break ties with Pornhub?

The credit card giants investigating their business relationship with Pornhub after a prominent newspaper columnist alleged that the pornographic website shows videos of rape and underage sex. Mastercard and Visa follow the online payment service PayPal which stopped processing payments to Pornhub last year.

What are the allegations against Pornhub?

In a recent op-ed by Nicholas Kristof for The New York Times, the American columnist revealed that the pornography website includes “many" videos depicting “child abuse and nonconsensual violence". The report outlined how many of the 6.8 million new videos posted each year violated legal guidelines regarding child pornography and rape. It also alleged that because Pornhub users could download videos directly from the site, images of abuse could be reposted repeatedly despite it being removed from the platform once.

Does Pornhub host child abuse and rape videos?

Pornhub users can upload videos from anywhere in the world without having to share any personal details. Since it is impossible to tell how old a person is on video, it is not possible for either Porbhub or viewers in some cases to understand if a girl or boy in the video is a minor. The report also found the site monetizing on rape videos. The NYT columnist outlined how certain keywords could be used to search for child pornography on Pornhub.

Has Porbhub been accused of violations before?

Yes, several times. In 2019, one of the pornography pages that Pornhub hosted called ‘Girls on Fire’ became the subject of an FBI investigation. The reason? Allegations surfaced that the company was allegedly using illegal, dishonest or abusive means to acquire its content. But despite an investigation that began in August last year, Pornhub continued to host the page well into October. Many of the amateur page’s videos can still be found on the platform. Several instances of videos of child abuse and rape ending up on Pornhub have also been reported over the years. In 2019, a US man from Florida had raped a 15-year-old girl and the video ended up on Porhub. As per data collected by the online watchdog Internet Watch Foundation, 118 videos depicting child sexual abuse and minor rape on Pornhub between the years 2017-19, BBC reported earlier in the year.

How has Pornhub responded to the controversy?

Following reports of child abuse on the platform, Pornhub has responded by banning unverified users from uploading videos on the platform. This is a big policy-change for the platform, which so far functioned similarly to YouTube and permitted video uploaders to be anonymous. Pornhub called the decisions of the credit card giants “exceptionally disappointing," despite the changes it had made following the Times report.

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