By Michelle Price
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Visa and Mastercard on Thursday said they had suspended ties with the advertisement arm of MindGeek, owner of pornography website Pornhub, after a lawsuit alleged raised questions over whether payments companies could be facilitating child pornography.
On Friday, a federal judge in California rejected Visa’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit by a woman who alleges the company facilitated the distribution of child pornography on Pornhub and other websites run by its parent company MindGeek.
Visa said “we strongly disagree with this decision” and that the company “does not permit the use of our network for illegal activity.”
Both Visa and Mastercard in 2020 cut ties with Pornhub after The New York Times reported that many videos posted on the adult website depicted sexual assault of children. Pornhub denied the allegations.
However, Friday’s court ruling created new uncertainty about the role of TrafficJunky, MindGeek’s advertising arm, Visa said.
“Accordingly, we will suspend TrafficJunky’s Visa acceptance privileges based on the court’s decision until further notice.”
Likewise, Mastercard said on Thursday that new facts from the ruling “made us aware of advertising revenue outside of our view that appears to provide Pornhub with indirect funding.”
As a result, the company is “directing financial institutions to suspend acceptance of our products at TrafficJunky.”
Representatives for MindGeek and TrafficJunky did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Michelle Price)