Mastercard cutting ties with Pornhub, Visa suspending payments following accusations of abuse

Both Visa and Mastercard are investigating their business relationships with Pornhub

Mastercard announced Thursday that it is cutting financial ties with Pornhub, and Visa said it is temporarily suspending payments on the site.

The announcement comes after four lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation authored by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., that aims to give sex abuse and trafficking victims the right to seek compensation in court if pornography websites distribute intimate photos of them without their consent.

Hawley announced in a Thursday tweet that Mastercard was "terminating the use of their cards on Pornhub" and called on Visa to do the same. Visa shortly after told Fox News in a statement that it will be suspending payments on Pornhub as it investigates the site.

Both Visa and Mastercard announced that they are looking into their respective business relationships with Pornhub after The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof published a Dec. 4 report accusing the site of monetizing "child rapes, revenge pornography, spycam videos of women showing, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags."


"Given the allegations of illegal activity, Visa is suspending Pornhub’s acceptance privileges pending the completion of our ongoing investigation," Visa told Fox News in a statement. "We are instructing the financial institutions who serve MindGeek to suspend processing of payments through the Visa network."

The statement continued: "At Visa, we are vigilant in our efforts to stamp out illegal activity on our network, and we encourage our financial institution partners to regularly review their merchants’ compliance of our standards on this and other platforms."

MasterCard and VISA credit cards are seen in this picture illustration taken June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/Illustration

Mastercard did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News.

Pornhub called the news "disappointing" in a statement to Fox News.

"These actions are exceptionally disappointing, as they come just two days after Pornhub instituted the most far-reaching safeguards in user-generated platform history," the statement said. "Unverified users are now banned from uploading content -- a policy no other platform has put in place, including Facebook, which reported 84 million instances of child sexual abuse material over the last three years. In comparison, the Internet Watch Foundation reported 118 incidents on Pornhub over the last three years."

PORNHUB PERFORMERS' PAYPAL PAYMENTS PUT ON ICE Pornhub's statement added that the announcements were "crushing for the hundreds of thousands of models who rely on our platform for their livelihoods." The website implemented a number of changes to the platform's policies on Tuesday after Kristof's report circulated throughout the media.

Some pundits and commentators including Kurt Schlichter said Hawley was setting a "dangerous precedent."

"No. Every card company should be mandated to serve every legal business. Even one for creepy, Swalwell-types," Schlichter tweeted in response to the news.

Others praised the moves from Visa and Mastercard, including the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE).


"Mastercard has made the right decision to cut ties with a profiteer of rape. Mastercard has chosen to defend human dignity and we applaud the company for making this bold step," NCOSE Senior Vice President said Dawn Hawkins said in a statement to Fox News.

Hawkins said the NCOSE "met with Mastercard earlier in 2020 to ask the company to stop processing payments for Pornhub and we are grateful that they have acted to make this significant change."


Fox News' Sam Dorman contributed to this report.