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Visa to be sued in PornHub abuse claim

Online Safety
3 August 2022
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Global payment provider Visa will be sued in a landmark legal challenge against the world's largest pornography site, Pornhub.

An abuse survivor named Serena Fleites is suing the site for sharing an explicit video of her, filmed in 2014 when she was just 13.

Ms Fleites alleges that she was pressured into being filmed before her boyfriend uploaded the clip to Pornhub without her consent.

The initial clip had garnered almost half a million views by the time she discovered it was on the internet.

Ms Fleites says her life "spiralled out of control" as a result and she attempted suicide several times.

Visa implicated

She believes that Visa, by processing revenue from ads, conspired with Pornhub's parent firm to make money from videos of her abuse.

Visa had sought to be removed from the case but at the end of last week, a US judge dismissed the companies arguments.

Judge Carney said "the Court can infer a strong possibility that Visa's network was involved in at least some advertisement transactions relating directly to Plaintiff's videos".

"Put yet another way, Visa is not alleged to have simply created an incentive to commit a crime, it is alleged to have knowingly provided the tool used to complete a crime".

Growing backlash

Mindgeek, the parent company behind Pornhub and another explicit website, has faced a growing backlash for profiting from abuse.

Laila Mickelwait, founder and CEO of the Justice Defense Fund, is raising awareness of the gross abuses of the porn industry.

In an article for Newsweek, she strongly criticised Visa and Mastercard for continuing to partner with Pornhub.

"It is unacceptable that Visa and Mastercard still enable their cards to generate revenue from Pornhub", she said.

"Last year, 34 women who were raped, abused, and trafficked on Pornhub—including 14 who were children at the time—sued Visa".

"If credit card companies stopped enabling transactions for Pornhub advertising, they could force the site to halt its harmful practices".

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