Visa rightly cut ties with Pornhub in 2020 after public outcry regarding the rampant sex trafficking and abuse videos on the porn website and an expose in The New York Times that revealed countless people have had sex trafficked, child abuse, or non-consensually shared videos uploaded to the website Pornhub, and other sites like it. Visa also banned “some transactions” on the Xvideos website after the Czech Republic government began investigating the company for similar problems. For these reasons Visa has been removed from the Dirty Dozen List for 2021.
However, Visa has intentionally re-initiated a relationship with Mindgeek (the owner of Pornhub) and other pornography websites so long as they only published “professional” videos. This action legitimizes an inherently exploitive industry that is rife with force, fraud, and coercion within the so-called “professional” sector as well. Further, Visa processes payments for brothels, a sugar dating website, and OnlyFans the subscription pornography platform—which is why Visa has been named to the 2021 Dirty Dozen Watch List. It’s time for Visa to cut ties with sexually exploitive industries for good.
While we have reached out to numerous credit card companies on similar issues, we have placed Visa alone on the 2021 Dirty Dozen List because it is a credit card network with one of the largest market shares that is processing payments for pornography with themes of sexual violence, racism, incest, and the fetishization of minors, brothels, pseduo-relationship prostitution and more.
Visa is normalizing the predatory pornography industry by processing payments for it, despite its sexually exploitive nature including harm to performers, sex trafficking victims, and even large-scale public health.
The pornography industry is not “just another industry.”
Visa’s claims to now only process pornography for professional studio-produced porn does not mean they are processing payments for non-exploitive content. Abuse and trauma still occur within the studio-produced pornography industry. High-profile pornography producers have been accused of and even convicted of sex trafficking performers.
Research is also clear that the pornography industry inflicts both physical and mental trauma on performers.
A 2011 study found, “Female adult film performers have significantly worse mental health and higher rates of depression than other California women of similar ages.”
Another study reported that pornography performers experience physical trauma on the film set, often leave the industry with financial insecurity and mental health problems, and also experience health risks that aren’t limited to sexually transmitted diseases.
Further, the pornography industry is not set up to protect performers it is set up to make money no matter the cost and harm. The pornography industry has actively lobbied against protections meant to ensure children and minors are not used in mainstream pornography. It has also lobbied against common-sense protections to performers’ physical and sexual health, despite the fact that research has found that pornography performers have a ‘high burden’ of sexually transmitted diseases. This burden includes and extends well beyond the risk of HIV infection.
BROTHELS AND ONLINE PROSTITUTION
Visa also processes payments for brothels operating in Nevada, despite the fact that prostitution causes physical and psychological trauma that cannot be regulated away even within a legal system. Further, audits have found that a significant number of sex trafficking victims are still being sex trafficked into these brothels—which means Visa is helping facilitate that transaction. (You can learn more about Nevada which is placed on the 2021 Dirty Dozen List here.)
And Visa is processing payments for Seeking Arrangement, a “sugar dating” pseudo-relationship prostitution platform that targets college students and people suffering from the economic uncertainty of COVID-19 to be sexually used by wealthier, older men. Research shows that sugar dating should fall under the definition of prostitution, and so Visa is facilitating payments that not only cause harm but also legally dubious at minimum. (You can learn more about Seeking Arrangement which is placed on the 2021 Dirty Dozen List here.)
And finally, Visa is processing payments for OnlyFans, a subscription site where “fans” pay a monthly membership fee and tips to see a “content creator’s” videos. This site is known to be primarily used to sell people for prostitution and pornography: and has profited from the deepening economic vulnerabilities – especially among women – during the pandemic. The owner, Leonid Radvinsky, owns other large pornography webcamming websites, and so clearly it seems that the platform’s intention is to facilitate commercial sex acts online. OnlyFans has insufficient verification measures for age or consent—meaning it is highly likely that child sexual abuse materials and sex trafficked persons are being exploited on the platform. An increasing number of reports show evidence of minors on the site, and, tragically, cases of people being sex trafficked for the purpose of pornographic content on OnlyFans have begun to surface as well. Experts – including law enforcement – are hailing it as the new backpage.com, which, as you know was shuttered for facilitating sex trafficking. (You can learn more about OnlyFans which is placed on the 2021 Dirty Dozen List here.)
WARNING: Any pornographic images have been blurred, but are still suggestive. There may also be graphic text descriptions shown in these sections.
Visa Processing Payments for Brothels, Sugar Dating, and OnlyFans
Proof of Visa Processing Payment for Brothels in Nevada: January 6 2021
Bunny Ranch Brothel:
Love Ranch Brothel:
Proof of Visa Processing Payment for Seeking Arrangement: January 6 2021
Proof of Visa Processing Payment for OnlyFans: December 23 2020
Sex Trafficking, Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse in Porn Industry
It is impossible for the pornography industry to judge from the content of a video or image whether force, fraud, psychological coercion, social manipulation, etc, were used to instigate it. This is especially true considering many sex traffickers and abusers will groom victims to claim that they are operating of their own free will.
It is impossible to assume the pornography industry has any real metric to measure consent in any porn on its site, aside from complaints from victims of non-consensually shared porn (which is insufficient since estimated 1/25 Americans are victims of this kind of abuse & many never know about nonconsensually-shared porn of themselves.)
Below are just a few examples of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, child abuse, and more intersecting with mainstream pornography:
- In December 2020 the New York Times released an opinion editorial titled The Children of Pornhub which documented several survivor stories of people whose videos of abuse were uploaded onto Pornhub (a major porn site that Visa processes payments for), one survivor said "Pornhub became my trafficker."
- Videoed rape of a 14-year-old girl were posted on Pornhub and were reported to the authorities not by a classmate.
- Videos of a 15-year-old child sexual abuse and sex trafficking victim were found on PornHub.
- PornHub (a major porn site that Visa processes payments for) left videos of sex trafficking victims up on their site, even for months after civil charges have been filed in their case, most likely in order to benefit from increased web traffic.
- Derek Hay, one of the pornography industry-leading agents, has been accused by several women “of fraud, sexual abuse and links to an illegal escort business — accusations including coercing performers to pay off ‘unconscionable’ fees and penalties either in cash or by performing sexual acts on him.” NOTE: these accusations fall under the definition of sex trafficking.
- Watch this video about the story of a young woman who was sex trafficked into pornography through what she thought was going to be a modeling job.
- An ex-producer for Hustler spoke out about the ubiquitous use of drugs on mainstream pornography sets. Note: drugs are often used to facilitate sex trafficking or to push past a woman's initial sexual boundaries (i.e. sexual abuse.)
- Another case of sex trafficking victims being used in pornography: "[the man] videotaped and otherwise documented the BDSM he engaged in with [the woman], forced her to maintain an online website, and kept all the profits from the website."
- In this case, a man would tape himself drugging and raping women, and then sell the footage to online pornography sites.
- The FBI reports that in another case of sex trafficking "Between February 2004 and February 2009, the indictment says, [the sex trafficker/abuser] tortured [the victim] on live webcasts on the Internet." Note that most mainstream pornography websites today include live webcam videos, which can easily be featuring coerced and abused victims because there is no fool-proof way to authenticate their consent.
Proof of Visa Processing Payments for Pornography Companies
Proof: Visa is partnering with pornography websites, including those hosting content fetishizing minors, racism, sexual violence, and more.
Verified February 11 2021
Credit and Debit Card Executives Must End Their Companies’ Involvement in Sexual Exploitation
Public Health Harms of Pornography
Help educate others and demand change by sharing these on social media:
While we believe that BigTech has a responsibility to proactively create safe spaces online (especially for children) without being pressured to do so by advocacy organizations and parents, we still appreciate when corporations make positive changes. We thank Amazon Prime Video for finally giving parents some control about what kind of media their young
MIM launched new, annual project called the Dirty Dozen,
SquareGraphic_DirtyDozena list of 12 facilitators of pornography. Thousands of Americans have participated in contacting these individuals and companies, and after considerable press, success is happening.
We’ve had a busy, productive week! Our meeting with the newly appointed Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, left us enthusiastic that our efforts are making a difference. Chairman Wheeler’s fortified his commitment to maintaining the current decency standards, affirming a new standard to allow nudity will not be implemented.