Instagram Shuts Down Pornhub Account A Month After Visa And Mastercard Suspended Payments To Parent Company’s Advertising Arm

MindGeek, The Parent Company Of Pornhub & Brazzers

Social media site Instagram shut down Pornhub’s account about a month after both Visa and Mastercard suspended payments to the website’s advertising arm, TrafficJunky, following multiple allegations and a lawsuit accusing the company of profiting off child pornography and sex trafficking.

MindGeek, which is the parent company for multiple pornographic websites and production companies including Pornhub and Brazzers, is being sued for allegedly distributing and profiting off of child pornography and human trafficking via their content platforms. The allegations also claim that the financial giant Visa knowingly facilitated MindGeek’s ability to monetize the illegal content.

Serena Fleites via DoctorOz YouTube

Serena Fleites alongside a number of other anonymous women filed a lawsuit in California against MindGeek as well as Visa claiming MindGeek “succeeded in creating a bustling marketplace for child pornography, rape videos, trafficked videos, and every other form of non-consensual content.”

The suit adds, “They intentionally elected to not employ any effective monitoring of what was being uploaded, or process for removing what content was exploitive and illegal. To the contrary, in the rare instance where the defendants were forced to remove content from their platform, whistleblowers have confirmed that they subsequently would reupload the content to their platform.”

As for Visa, the suit notes, “Also knowingly profiting along with them, were major American credit companies and banks, including in particular here, defendant Visa, who was uniquely suited to stop this exploitation but chose instead to participate in the profiteering.”

Serena Fleites via HelpUsDefend YouTube

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The suit specifically alleges that MindGeek exploited Sara Fleites and 13 other women via child sex trafficking and 20 other women of sex trafficking.

It specifically details  that “in 2014, eighth grader Serena Fleites learned that a nude, sexually explicit video her high school boyfriend had coerced her to make months earlier had been uploaded to Pornhub without her knowledge or consent. She was just 13 years old in the video.”

Fleites then impersonated her mother and demanded Pornhub take down the video explaining to them “this is child pornography, my daughter is a minor and only 13 years old.” Pornhub responded after two weeks and “acknowledged the video contained CSAM and agreed to take it down.” However, they didn’t take it down until two weeks after their response to Fleites. The suit then alleges that the video was downloaded and reuploaded numerous times to Pornhub and other pornographic websites and Fleites would go through the process to have each video removed.

David Tassillo via HelpUsDefend YouTube

The suit goes on to note that she was “bullied and harassed” by her classmates who “threatened to disclose the sexually explicit video to Serena’s mother or to her school” if she did not send them sexually explicit videos.

She eventually attempted to commit suicide by hanging herself with a power cord was saved by her younger sister and her mother’s boyfriend and paramedics who were called to the scene. She eventually moved in with a friend and was “introduced to heroin by an older male who she subsequently began to date, became addicted, and struggled with addiction for the next three years.”

“To fund their joint heroin habits, the older man manipulated Serena, who was still a minor at the time, into creating sexually explicit videos of herself, which were then sold on Craigslist and the Kik app,” the suit details. “Serena subsequently learned that once sold, some of the videos were uploaded to Pornhub without her knowledge or consent. These videos were still on Pornhub as recently as June 2020.”

Feras Antoon via HelpUsDefend YouTube

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The lawsuit, which was filed in June, saw both MindGeek CEO Feras Antoon and COO, who are both named as defendants in the lawsuit, resign from the Montreal-based company. According to Reuters the company claimed “executives stepping down was planned since early 2022.” 

An attempt was made by Visa to dismiss the lawsuit, but District Judge Cormac Carney of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, ruled that the case could continue against Visa and Pornhub for their profiting off videos portraying child pornography, rejecting a motion for dismissal.

“Visa made the decision to continue to recognize MindGeek as a merchant, despite its alleged knowledge that MindGeek monetized child porn, MindGeek made the decision to continue monetizing child porn, and there are enough facts pled to suggest that the latter decision depended on the former,” he wrote.

He also noted that “plaintiff simply has no basis for claiming Visa directly participated in the sex trafficking ventures that harmed her.” However, he left the option to amend the complaint pending jurisdictional discovery.

Alfred Kelly via CNBC YouTube

Following the judge’s ruling denying Visa’s motion to dismiss the case in part and to allow the case to continue, Visa announced they had suspended the use of their cards on the site since December 2020.

Visa CEO Alfred Kelly Jr. wrote in a blog post, “Let me be clear: Visa condemns sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse. It is illegal, and Visa does not permit the use of our network for illegal activity. Our rules explicitly and unequivocally prohibit the use of our products to pay for content that depicts nonconsensual sexual behavior or child sexual abuse. We are vigilant in our efforts to deter this and other illegal activity on our network. Moreover, we require Visa’s financial institution clients, which maintain the direct relationships with merchants, to assure and attest to merchants’ compliance with our standards.”

Specifically referring to MindGeek he said, “With respect to MindGeek specifically, we suspended sites that contained user-generated content in December 2020 and acceptance on those sites has not been reinstated. Despite what you may have read in recent days, you cannot use your Visa card on Pornhub.”

However, despite claiming the company condemns sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse, he concluded the blog post writing, “It is Visa’s policy to follow the law of every country in which we do business. We do not make moral judgments on legal purchases made by consumers, and we respect the rightful role of lawmakers to make decisions about what is legal and what is not. Accordingly, Visa can be used only at MindGeek studio sites that feature adult professional actors in legal adult entertainment.”

Alfred Kelly via CNBC Television YouTube

Mastercard also issued a statement at the beginning of August, “We are directing financial institutions to suspend acceptance of our products at TrafficJunky. New facts from last week’s court ruling made us aware of advertising revenue outside of our view that appears to provide Pornhub with indirect funding. This step will further enforce our December 2020 decision to terminate the use of our products on that site.”

The company added, “We have zero tolerance for illegal activity on our network. We will continue to follow this case and take further action, as necessary.”

Dawn Hawkins is CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation via Set Free Summit YouTube

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While Visa and Mastercard have suspended payments to MindGeek’s advertising arm, TrafficJunky, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation notes that Visa is still processing payments for Pornhub competitors that face similar allegations.

CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation Dawn Hawkins stated, “Visa long supported the monetization of child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, rape, and image-based abuse images found on MindGeek-owned pornography websites by continuing to process payments for the company despite being put on notice by NCOSE and others of the abuse. Now, Visa has taken an incremental step, but they must do more.”

She added, “If Visa cares about these issues as much as they say they do, Visa must suspend all payment processing services for XVideos, XHamster, and all pornography tube sites as well as their advertising arms, not only TrafficJunky.”

Dawn Hawkins via National Center on Sexual Exploitation YouTube

Instagram, owned by Meta, has now announced they have suspended Pornhub’s account, which had 13.1 million followers. 

National Center on Sexual Exploitation shared an image to their Instagram noting the account was removed because it violated Instagram’s Community Guidelines.

The organization captioned the photo writing, “Instagram is courageously choosing to stop partnering with Pornhub. It’s time for all corporate entities to follow its example!”

National Center on Sexual Exploitation Instagram

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The National Center on Sexual Exploitation noted that the Pornhub Instagram account “directly promoted promoted pornography, and featured vides like ‘Next Career Goal’ encouraging its Instagram audience (which includes children) to become a pornography performer.”

“Instagram was right to remove Pornhub from its platform for violating its community standards given the increasing reports of Pornhub hosting child sexual abuse material (CSAM), sex trafficking, filmed rape, and non-consensual videos and images,” said Hawkins.

“Instagram served as a distribution partner with this criminal enterprise, helping to push millions to their website, including children,” Hawkins added. “We are grateful that Instagram has heard the voices of sexual abuse survivors who have been personally harmed by Pornhub’s insatiable appetite for profit.”

Dawn Hawkins via National Center on Sexual Exploitation YouTube

MindGeek is not only exploiting women and allegedly involved in numerous criminal activities from child pornography to sex trafficking, but the company is also connected to online surveillance and data farming as noted by YouTuber Culture Casino.

What do you make of Instagram banning Pornhub?

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