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Mastercard, Visa to block use of cards on Pornhub website

Preview: "Speaking Frankly: Porn"
Preview: CBSN Originals presents "Speaking Frankly: Porn" 00:45

Mastercard and Visa announced they would block their customers from using the credit cards to make purchases on Pornhub following accusations the pornographic website showed videos of rape and underage sex.

They reacted following an investigation by opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times that also alleged the site depicts revenge pornography and video taken without the consent of participants.

Pornhub's "site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags," Kristof wrote.

In a statement to The Associated Press on December 6, Pornhub said it is "irresponsible and flagrantly untrue'' to suggest that it allows images of the sexual abuse of children on its site. Pornhub added that it employs moderators to screen every upload and that it removes illegal material.

CBS Reports presents "Speaking Frankly: Porn" 23:01

The online payment service PayPal last year stopped processing payments to Pornhub, which is owned by the pornography conglomerate MindGeek. Kristof called out other card issuers for working with the site.

American Express said company policy prohibits the Amex card from being used on "digital adult content websites.''

Other websites being investigated

Mastercard said Thursday it is terminating use of its cards on Pornhub after its own investigation confirmed what it called violations of standards prohibiting unlawful conduct on the site. Mastercard said it is also investigating other websites for potential illegal content.

Visa said Thursday it was suspending use of its cards on Pornhub even though its own investigation was incomplete.

Pornhub, in a statement, called the actions "exceptionally disappointing." Two days ago, the company announced steps to protect against images of abuse, nonconsensual activity and underage models on the site, including a ban on unverified users uploading material.

"This news is crushing for the hundreds of thousands of models who rely on our platform for their livelihoods," Pornhub said.

The company said it had more than 42 billion visits to its website last year.

Diane Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said her organization had met with Visa and Mastercard earlier this year to ask them to stop processing payments for Pornhub "and we are grateful that both companies will make these significant changes."

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