Visa cuts ties with Pornhub advertising platform after judge’s ruling in sex abuse case


Visa announced Thursday that it was cutting ties with Pornhub parent company MindGeek’s advertising platform after a federal judge ruled the credit card giant could be held financially liable in a child sex abuse lawsuit.

On Friday, California Judge Cormac J. Carney denied Visa’s motion to dismiss the case, brought by a woman who says the credit card giant profited from a video of her being sexually abused as a 13-year-old child in 2014 by processing advertising purchases on the website.

Plaintiff Serena Fleites “adequately pled” the credit card giant “conspired” to profit from her abuse by processing advertising purchases on the adult website Pornhub, the judge ruled.

In a statement posted online Thursday, Chairman and CEO Alfred E. Kelly Jr. announced the company was suspending Visa acceptance privileges for TrafficJunky, MindGeek’s advertising platform.

The decision comes after Visa previously suspended the use of Visa cards to purchase advertising on Pornhub in December 2020, he noted.

“The legal decision, with which we disagree, has also created new uncertainty about the role of TrafficJunky, MindGeek’s advertising arm,” Mr. Kelly wrote. “Accordingly, we will suspend TrafficJunky’s Visa acceptance privileges based on the court’s decision until further notice. During this suspension, Visa cards will not be able to be used to purchase advertising on any sites including Pornhub or other MindGeek affiliated sites.”

Visa’s opposition to “the use of our network for illegal activity” was “mischaracterized” in Friday’s pre-trial ruling and recent unnamed media reports, the CEO added.

Ms. Fleites, who is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, alleges in legal documents that her then-boyfriend posted the video of her — titled “13-Year Old Brunette Shows Off For the Camera” — without her knowledge or consent.

She says the video had 400,000 views by the time she discovered it, leading her to drop out of school and attempt suicide several times after peers “harassed and bullied” her.

Although MindGeek “seems to have acknowledged” the video as child pornography when Fleites contacted the company to remove it, the lawsuit says it took them “a few weeks” to remove it, allowing millions more people to view it.

When she contacted MindGeek to remove the reposted video, the company told her to provide “photographic proof” that she was the child in it, according to the complaint.


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