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Credit Card Companies Pressured PornHub Into Reform — What’s Next?

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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Visa, Mastercard and American Express have forced PornHub to delete millions of videos in an attempt to purge its site of unlawful content, but the site is far from the only porn website, and not even the most popular — so what happens next?

PornHub was accused in the pages of the New York Times opinion section of monetizing “child rapes, revenge pornography, spycam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.” As a result of Pulitzer prize-winning opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof‘s article, numerous credit card companies began banning the use of their systems to make transactions on PornHub.

“Today, the use of our cards at Pornhub is being terminated,” Mastercard said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) early in December. “Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site.”

A page on the Pornhub website. (Shutterstock)

A page on the PornHub website. PornHub recently deleted more than 60 percent of the videos on its site following pressure from credit card companies, which refused to allow transactions on the site until it took steps to remove unlawful content. PornHub has been found to platform footage of rape, incest, revenge porn and pedophilia with little attempt to moderate the content. The site took the large step to purge itself of all videos uploaded by unverified accounts last week. (Shutterstock).

“As a result, and in accordance with our policies, we instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance,” the credit card company continued. “In addition, we continue to investigate potential illegal content on other websites to take the appropriate action.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Pornhub May Be Protected From Legal Repercussions By Section 230, Rep. Banks Warns)

PornHub has traditionally operated as a platform similar to YouTube, where any user can upload content at will. This resulted in massive amounts of unlawful content being uploaded — from outright rape, incest or pedophilia to instances of revenge porn. Following application of pressure from credit card companies, PornHub has purged virtually all its content uploaded by unverified accounts — which amounted to approximately 60% of its footage.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-NE, questions U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Sept. 27, 2018. – University professor Christine Blasey Ford, 51, told a tense Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that could make or break Kavanaugh’s nomination she was “100 percent” certain he was the assailant and it was “absolutely not” a case of mistaken identify. (Photo credit should read ANDREW HARNIK/AFP/Getty Images)

But PornHub is far from the only porn site on the internet, and it can’t even claim the title of being the most popular. That honor goes to XVideos, a site that Kristof’s same article deemed even less scrupulous about unlawful content than PornHub. (RELATED: Sasse Demands Full Investigation After Pornhub Rapidly Changes Policies Over Allegations Of Child Sexual Exploitation)

XVideos gets an average of 3.142 billion visitors each month, compared to PornHub’s 2.848 billion. Compared to the rest of the internet, Xvideos is the eighth most-visited website in the world, and PornHub is the 10th most-visited.

Republican lawmakers in the Senate have sought to pursue the case against PornHub and similar sites. Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley introduced legislation aimed at allowing sex crime victims to receive compensation if footage of their attacks is uploaded to PornHub.

Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse also doubled down on his call for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Mindgeek, the company that owns PornHub and numerous other porn sites.