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Mastercard, Visa reviewing relationship with Pornhub after allegations of videos showing rape, underage sex

Mastercard, Visa reviewing relationship with Pornhub after allegations of videos showing rape, underage sex
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Credit card companies Mastercard and Visa announced  Sunday that they are reviewing their business relationships with Pornhub after a New York Times column reported the website showed explicit videos filmed without the consent of the participants. 

The probe comes after Nicholas Kristof wrote in a Friday column that Pornhub contains videos of rape scenes, revenge pornography and underage sex, allegations that Pornhub called “irresponsible and flagrantly untrue.”

Both Mastercard and Visa launched investigations into Pornhub and its parent company MindGeek in response to the column.

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Mastercard said in a statement obtained by The Hill that it has “zero tolerance for illegal activity on our network.”

“We are investigating the allegations raised in the New York Times and are working with MindGeek’s bank to understand this situation, in addition to the other steps they have already taken,” the company said.  

“If the claims are substantiated, we will take immediate action,” it added. “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.”

Similarly, Visa also said it was “aware of the allegations” and looking into MindGeek.

“We are aware of the allegations, and we are actively engaging with the relevant financial institutions to investigate, in addition to engaging directly with the site’s parent company, MindGeek,” Visa’s statement said. 

“If the site is identified as not complying with applicable laws or the financial institutions’ acceptable use policies and underwriting standards they will no longer be able to accept Visa payments,” the statement continued. 

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In his column, Kristof said that out of the 7 million videos posted to Pornhub each year, a majority likely show consensual acts. But many do not, he said.

His reporting included talking to teenage girls who experienced assault and trafficking and appeared in videos on the website.

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

Pornhub denied the assertions in a statement, saying it is  “unequivocally committed to combating child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and has instituted a comprehensive, industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community.”

"Any assertion that we allow CSAM is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue. We have zero tolerance for CSAM," Pornhub said in its statement.

Pornhub also cited its "extensive measures" to prevent such content from being on the site, including human moderators, parental controls, automated detection technologies and a system for flagging materials.

--Updated at 1:14 p.m.