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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Mastercard, Visa and Discover are cutting off payment processing services to Pornhub, which has been under the spotlight for the volume of nonconsensual videos available through its site.

Why it matters: The moves follow a New York Times report that detailed the harm that being on Pornhub can cause for people whose videos were posted without their consent. Days later, the site agreed to make changes designed to address criticism.

  • Mastercard said its move was effective immediately and is specific to Pornhub, though it continues to investigate content on other sites and will take appropriate action if unlawful content is found.

Catch up quick: As we reported yesterday, experts say the changes Pornhub is making represent positive steps, but will probably not be enough alone to solve the problem of non-consensual videos.

What they're saying:

  • Mastercard: "Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site. As a result, and in accordance with our policies, we instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance."
  • Visa: "Given the allegations of illegal activity, Visa is suspending Pornhub’s acceptance privileges pending the completion of our ongoing investigation. We are instructing the financial institutions who serve [Pornhub parent company] MindGeek to suspend processing of payments through the Visa network."
  • Discover "has terminated Discover card acceptance at Pornhub.com. We require our financial institution partners to monitor for and prevent card acceptance at merchants that allow illegal or any other prohibited activities that violate our operating standards. When Discover determines merchants are offering prohibited activity, we promptly terminate card acceptance through the offending merchant’s financial institution."
  • Pornhub: "These actions are exceptionally disappointing, as they come just two days after Pornhub instituted the most far-reaching safeguards in user-generated platform history. Unverified users are now banned from uploading content — a policy no other platform has put in place, including Facebook."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add that Discover has also suspended payment services to Pornhub.

Go deeper

Dec 18, 2020 - Podcasts

Nicholas Kristof on his Pornhub article and its aftermath

Pornhub is one of America's most-visited websites, but a recent investigation by the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof found many videos of minors and nonconsensual sexual violence. The blowback was swift, with Visa, Discover and Mastercard cutting some ties to the site, which has now removed the vast majority of its content.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Kristof about the aftermath of his story and what comes next.

Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

Jerome Powell. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty Images

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Wednesday that rock-bottom interest rates aren't playing a role in driving stock prices higher, while noting that vulnerabilities to the financial system are "moderate."

Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.