Visa and Mastercard Submit to Politicians Trying To Put the Squeeze on Pornhub

Neither company will accept charges for Pornhub purchases going forward.


Mastercard and Visa today announced that they will no longer let customers use their cards on the adult video site Pornhub. This new policy was prompted by political pressure, making it the latest government victory in a long, censorious quest.

Governments can define actual actions as "crimes" and threaten dire consequences for those actions, but the intangible contents of the human mind are forever out of their reach. So officials covet the next best thing: the power to stop individuals from sharing the products of those minds—ideas, fantasies, art—with others. In America they are constrained by the First Amendment, and so for centuries they've dreamed up ways to circumvent that restriction.

The courts have rejected most of these attempts, but one has had remarkable staying power: an exception for the nebulosity called "obscenity." This used to be a fairly hefty cudgel; most big publishers, movie producers, and so on were unwilling to be dragged into court for a principle, and most of those who were willing were too puny to put up much of a defense. That started to change in the 1980s, when cheap video equipment made it possible to churn out shoestring productions for the new and rapidly-growing home video market. The ensuing explosion of porn was so big that there was simply no way to challenge each item individually, as the law required.

The arrival of the web a decade later multiplied the number of targets exponentially. And when the Prudes on the Hill tried to bury it all with the Communications Decency Act of 1996, the only important part of the Act to survive dismemberment by the courts was a provision called Section 230, which made it even harder to control "indecent" material by making it safe for large websites to let millions of users create and upload their own.

But as Phil Kerby of the L.A. Times once said, "Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second." Puritans kept pushing for prosecutions under existing obscenity laws, but they also worked to change those laws by devising new exceptions to free expression, some of them centered around the idea that an unknown (but very large) fraction of the models and performers in sexually explicit pictures, video, and advertisements (for sexual services) were not consenting adults. Women are allegedly so naive, fragile, and asexual that virtually none of us would willingly engage in commercial sex; therefore, the story goes, virtually all sex workers (including porn performers) are slaves forced into the work. Lest people decide that 20- and 30-somethings are, in fact, capable of consenting to sex for money, the myth also claims that most sex workers are underage; a common (albeit mathematically illiterate) trope claims that the "average" age of debut in sex work is 13.

Individual sex workers and brick-and-mortar sex businesses (such as massage parlors or strip clubs) can be attacked via police violence and prosecutorial harassment, but that's not as easy when the target is a popular website hosting user-generated content. When any severed head of the sex hydra is replaced by hundreds of others, the only remaining strategy is to strike at the body by cutting off the resources it needs to survive. Early in 2013, the Obama administration hit upon the idea of "choking" disfavored industries (including tobacco, guns, and online pharmacies as well as porn) by threatening their financial services with punitive paperwork and auditing requirements; the plan was to induce the banks, credit cards, and so on to cut off the businesses, thus forcing them to close without having to go through the hard work of proving each one individually guilty of wrongdoing.

Two years later, Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff Tom Dart used a similar strategy by issuing veiled threats against Visa and Mastercard in order to get them to stop doing business with Backpage, a classified advertising website whose vendors included people who sell sex. And now that Backpage is no more, the new folk devil is Pornhub.

Like Backpage, Pornhub is entirely composed of user-generated material; it should therefore be fairly bulletproof, thanks to the aforementioned Section 230. But that law is under attack from politicians of both major parties, and perennial busybody Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times (a major figure in the crusade against Backpage) recently called for Mastercard and Visa to choke out Pornhub. Naturally, Kristof's suggestions lack the inherent threat which was intrinsic to Dart's. But Kristof has a bully pulpit, and he has political allies such as Josh Hawley, the junior senator from Missouri who seems intent on making his reputation on a platform of censorship, internet "regulation", and attacking tech companies by any means necessary. Given that Kristof's crusade against Backpage provided talking points for many authoritarian politicians (including the new vice-president elect), he cannot be dismissed as merely another loudmouthed pundit.

Mastercard and Visa have already caved; more companies may join them soon—and if they don't, you shouldn't be surprised if a legislative or regulatory stick soon follows.

NEXT: Self-Victimhood Is a Personality Type, Researchers Find

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  1. People pay for that shit?


    1. Yeah, that’s I didn’t know that was still a thing.

    2. Hey man you’ll have money one day.

      1. Not if he doesn’t quit his fast food job for something better.

        1. Funny story. When I was working at McDonalds back in high school, one of the guys I worked with was a simpleminded fellow named Willie who, at the time, was a Guinness Record holder. Most burgers flipped over a lifetime. Get this though. The dude was rich. Like lots of money. He lived a simple life in a small apartment, rode a bicycle to work, and saved the rest. Bought company stock early. He was worth millions. I suppose there’s two lessons to be learned from that. Live below your means, but don’t be a dope and not enjoy your savings now and then!

          1. “Funny story”


            1. I’ve had periods of my life when I didn’t have a car and rode my bike to work. It was sometimes a chore, especially in bad weather, but it was often enjoyable. The key is to have the option to ride, rather than it being a necessity. It saved me money on a gym membership! {Pandemic note: great replacement for other exercise when the gyms are closed.}

      2. You pay for porn? Dude…..

        1. Hey man you’ll have money one day.

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    4. I hate to admit this, but as a single middle-aged man, porn hub is my favorite porn site.
      However as near as I can tell, porn hub is free.
      I’ve certainly been using it for years and have never given them a penny.
      When that credit card clearing company ( I’m too lazy to look up the name right now) announced were no longer going to process payments to gun and ammunition companies I posted everywhere that this is the perfect time for a conservative to open their own credit card processing company and even credit card.
      I would dump my other credit cards in favor of a “Second Amendment card” that donates money to get youth involved in shooting sports.
      Then Trump was elected president and this kind of stuff disappeared for a little while.
      If the Democrats manage to win a majority in the Senate with these Georgia races, we can look forward to lots more of this kind of tyranny in the future

  2. If you think Pornhub is the only place that politicians will be encouraging credit-card providers to stop serving, you’re crazy.

    We’re not far away from the demonotization of all non-progressives – not just on YouTube, but in all of life!

    1. We’re not far away from the demonotization of all non-progressives

      By ‘no far away’ you mean neck-deep in the process?

    2. But you don’t understand. Reason says it’s totally okay for private companies to threaten, censor and effectively demonetize others if they’re gross or have the wrong opinions. It’s only unlibertarian if the government is book-burning.

      I’m sure ENB, Boehm, Binion and Sullum will all have articles tomorrow endorsing Visa’s action… because they’re totally not hypocrites… right?

      1. Yeah, don’t get why Reason is irked. MUH PRIVATE PLATFORMS and all.

        1. It’s because Pornhub is a protected publisher that prompts slimy pols to do bullshit like this financial handcuffing collusion bullshit.

          They can’t attack PH for what they publish, because of Sec 230 (allegedly), so they resort to strong-arming banks in to killing off disfavored industries for them.

          It’s definitely straight up fascist, nazi bullshit. Directing privately owned businesses to do the bidding of the state is the very definition of fascism.

        2. Because it is porn being censored. Political or philosophical speech being suppressed? That just is not important.

      2. Broadly speaking, libertarians don’t feel a private company is obliged to provide any given person with a platform. The right to speak is not an entitlement to force the nightly news to carry your speech. Visa and Mastercard have the right to make private business decisions, but what’s happening here is that they are caving to government pressure. So what’s going to happen is some entrepreneur will offer a porn-friendly charge card, maybe using bitcoins. The war on porn will be as successful as the war on drugs, which is to say there won’t be a street corner in American where someone can’t buy a dildo.

        1. “libertarians don’t feel a private company is obliged to provide any given person with a platform”

          So no blacks at the soda cpunter?

          Oh wait no, that’s different for some stupid fucking reason.

          1. You do know Jim Crow laws would force businesses whose owners didn’t support segregation to do so, right? {Not that there weren’t firms not bound by Jim Crow laws who discriminated anyway.}

        2. That has not been the case historically; Operation Choke Point has been ongoing since the oh-so-dreamy Constitutional scholar had his 8 years of executive overreach and extralegal programs. It tapered off and died during the bad orange man’s time, but is now making a come back. I think the term is, emboldened. Hawley and other conservative nanny-statists don’t help, and a good rule is that if the progressives and ‘far right’ agree on censorious actions, then those actions are definitely suspect at the very least.

          1. Or it could just mean a broken clock is right twice a day

      3. I love how you complained in the other thread when I called out conservatives for having a victimhood complex, yet here you go, playing up the victim in some imaginary plot to demonetize conservatives.

      4. I’ve been reading this website a while and I find its content very disturbing. The other day, they were trying to fundraise and I thought, well, that’s just wrong. I believe we must call on Mastercard and Visa to refuse to process any transactions that fund this vile website with its implicit distrust of some of the good things government could do for us if we’d just give it more power.

    3. It’s been going on for a while.

      Try opening a merchant account with a corporate website that even mentions cannabis in passing. Not selling cannabis or anything, just mention it.

      You will lose your credit card processor on your first transaction over $5k. Every time.

      1. “couple times a month”

      2. I had the opportunity to participate in a recent IPO for a company using magic mushrooms to treat depression. When I tried to wire the money to the partnership that was acquiring the shares Fidelity Investments refused to send the funds because magic mushrooms were involved. The company had breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA and the IPO was blessed by the SEC, but that wasn’t good enough.

  3. First, they came for the pornographers, and I did not speak out—because I had Cinemax.

      1. This. It’s messed up that Reason is just now becoming aware of people and organizations being denied basic and necessary services and tools based on arbitrary concerns over their identities. I’ll admit that this is a gratuitous and very public instance, but individuals on the right have been dealing with coordinated deplatforming and cutting of common services for a long time.
        Interesting though that Reason got an actual whore to write for them about sex work. Can they get rid of ENB now?

      2. Actually, first they came for terrorists and actual pedophiles. It’s amazing how no one realizes censorship even exists till it hits them. Did you even notice the Snowden leaks?

      3. Molyneux does not have a right to Paypal. Do you want to infringe on Paypal’s freedom of association?

  4. Wait till the people running Biden gets in. I foresee a huge effort against guns and ammo.

    1. with the california contingent lined up four deep you’ll be more right than you imagine

  5. “… in the transition to statism, every infringement on human rights has begun with the suppression of a given right’s least attractive practitioners. ~ Ayn Rand

    Yesterday marijuana businesses, today pornographers, tomorrow gun shops, the day after me, and soon you ….

  6. Mastercard and Visa today announced that they will no longer let customers use their cards on the adult video site Pornhub. This new policy was prompted by political pressure, making it the latest government victory in a long, censorious quest.

    Let me see if I’ve learned my agrippa on all this stuff.

    *clear throat*

    They’re a private company, they can do whatever they want… who cares if they’re being whispered to by politicians. And it’s not censorship if a Private company is doing the shutting downing of talkinging and transactinging.

    There, how’d I do?

    1. Perfect reason Koch liberaltarian performance.

      1. All I can say is… this topic is target-fucking-rich. We’ve been repeatedly told not to care about any of this shit, as long as the decision occurred within some kind of magical libertarian bubble of personal choice. It didn’t matter that politicians all over the place have been whispering to these corporations on all manner of topics, as long as there was no law passed, we weren’t allowed to even think of it as “censorship”.

        1. I think it depends. Is it “the market” or is it political?

          I suspect that pornhub will have no trouble circumventing this in a way that lets everyone pretend the politicians won.

          1. What if it’s the market, but the market is controlled so there are one or two suppliers who manipulate and restrict access to their product? To what degree is it still really a “market”?

        2. What, hypocrisy from Reason? Well I never.

          1. I’m not going as far as calling it hypocrisy. But I will go as far as calling it a blind spot you could sail the USS Nimitz through…

        3. The concurrent sidestepping of Section 230 is pretty fucking epic too.

        4. I think it’s called being hoisted on your own retard.

          There are perfectly good political theories out there that don’t requires submitting every thought to the free market gods.

      1. Hot damn. The Nazis are quickly becoming the source of everything. From high-tech markets to crypto currencies to interplanetary explorers.

        We need to get Nazis into cancer research stat.

    1. It’s so creepy how a journalist like Will Sommer has no clue why they demonetized the blogger, but is totally fine with it because the blogger was “far-right”.
      Whatever he seems to think that means.

      1. That’s easy. “Far right” is anyone who challenges any progressive policy.

  7. The new temperance movement. I’d say make an argument about how visa mastercard is a monopoly but liberaltarians haven’t mastered that subject.

    1. They’re not a monopoly, there’s still Diner’s Club.

      1. They still take Green Stamps?

      2. bUiLd yUr oWn cReDiT cArD

        1. It’s he only way.

          Fuck, we should APPLAUD them for going after porn, right? It’s their right as companies which we should not criticize.

        2. Build your own newspaper.

  8. Ya know, between marijuana, porn, and firearms; there is enough financial clout to issue their own credit/payment processing services.

    And especially PornHub has the logistical expertise to make it work, possibly offering something superior to the major players.

    This is going to get interesting.

    1. Pornhub should create a spinoff service to compete with Youtube. I’ve heard (although I cannot personally confirm) that Pornhub has a pretty professional streaming website, that lacks the clunky user experience of others. Ie, they seem to be pretty good at it.

      Although before anyone gets too much on their high horse about protecting porn, I think it’s incumbent for the adult film industry to address its pay gap between men and women.

      Link warning: It’s far-right, dark-web persona Eric Weinstein discussing the pay disparity between men and women in the adult film industry, which his studious guest, Riley Reid.

      1. Even before watching this, I was thinking females should be getting paid more given the nature of porn. The video agrees this is the case.

    2. I can’t wait to use my PornHub card to pay for my date’s meal.

      1. Hilarious

        1. Fuck off sarcasmic

      2. Guaranteed sexy time at the end of the night.

  9. “ after an acrimonious divorce economic necessity inspired her to take up sex work;”

    So in other words the author was coerced. Right? She was a victim.

  10. Operation Chokepoint is alive and well, and won’t be going away under Biden.

    1. Threatening the success of Operation Chook Choke!

  11. Well, I don’t plan on getting vaccinated for the coronavirus so I’m assuming I soon won’t be able to use my Visa or Mastercard for anything any more.

  12. Visa and Mastercard Submit to Politicians Trying To Put the Squeeze on Pornhub


  13. Visa and Mastercard Submit to Politicians Trying To Put the Squeeze on Pornhub

    But will the politicians give them a happy ending?

  14. Do these people think that the deplatformed and demonitized simply *poof* disappear, or transmogrify into woke leftist douchebags and pearl-clutching church ladies?

    Muh private platform bruh… Bruh creates Gab, Parler, Bitchute, Locals.

    Bitcoin is a thing, but the cancelled have done quite well as the wokescolds have yeeted larger and larger volumes of presences from their ageing networks. As commenters above have posited, something new will arise and Visa/MasterCard will be increasingly displaced by it.

    This is ridiculous. Can we haul Metallica in for a good congressional thrumming again for old times’ sake? And I suppose Marilyn Manson can go on Bill O’Reilly’s podcast and be shockingly normal again. Somebody put new batteries in Tipper Gore.


    1. It’s BitCoin. Nothing can stop the BTC

      1. So much drama in the BTC, it’s kinda hard being Snoop . . .

    2. I dunno, lessee if it’s had any effect on pornhub.

      *calls friend to check out pornhub because I don’t allow sexy images on my digital devices*

      As of today, Pornhub has made major terms of service modifications, requiring ‘verified’ accounts to upload data. Also, the system where users were allowed to download any video has been nixed. No more downloads. This will let Pornhub maintain legal control of any video that appears on its site, without it ‘getting into the wild’ in case it turns out to be problematic.

      So looks like PH is hopping into line pretty quick to placate the scolds.

      And yes Bitcoin is a “thing” but it’s not a widely used “thing” and for every basement dwelling aspy libertarian who has his digital Walletz, there are 50 more normies who won’t pursue these alternative currency systems.

      I totally hear what you’re saying, but according to the Cancel Culture Leaders, deplatforming… works.

      1. As a person directly involved in this non-sexy portion of the business, the only direct comment I can make is, yes, PornHub has been affected.

        The only indirect comment I can make is that in March, despite all of our subversive intelligence, we all made the mistake of placating COVID pearl-clutchers.

      2. Locking down videos does no good. There are a number of apps that will download streaming videos.

      3. the users of porn are going to use whatever they must to buy their porn. if visa and MC force the issue they will seek out way to do it. discover will be smart to raise their non-judgemental hand (if they have one) and if not then there WILL be a move to use digital alternatives. cancel culture works but not forever…sooner or later folks get fatigued of being beset by whiners

  15. Well my Visa card reads Santos L Halper and has worked for over two decades.

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    1. But are they naked sculptures?

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  19. But as Phil Kerby of the L.A. Times once said, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.”

    Nope. Righteous superiority is the strongest drive (at least for some).

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  20. Any tool used to suppress organizations or people you disfavor can be used by others in the future to suppress organizations or people you favor.

  21. There are many other payment services that will be happy to take Visa and Master Card’s pornhub business.

  22. Libertarians could have been paying attention to the active anti-porn movement this whole time they instead chose to ally themselves with the evangelicals to own the libs.

    1. Owning the libs is a worthwhile endeavor, you should try it sometime.

      I mean here we are about to turn into a colony of China and you’re worried about being able to jack off for free. Fucking traitorous moron.

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  25. Pornhub and it’s parent MindGeek are anything but a sympathetic player in this never ending tug of war.

  26. So government squeezes via heavy regulations private companies to effectively censor what government does not like. In other words they use private companies to do what it is explicitly unconstitutional for government to do. I am so shocked!

    They are working hard to have social media companies do this as well and much more deeply. Trying to overturn 230 and thus make social media, ISPs and about everything that allows people to communicate over the internet is another part of the same thing.

    All of it must be recognized, targeted and stopped while we have any freedom left.

    1. I agree with every word you said. However I think that it cannot be stopped. The only course I see is is to allow the coastal leftist states and Chicago secede.
      . If not there will definitely be a second American Civil War

  27. So it’s not like porn stars have no rights but that they can’t stick up for them during a Democrat’s administration and feel too cozy during a Republican administration by having all the raman noodles and water they can eat!

    Or maybe it’s more like, if you can’t run for office with your level of knowledge, then you get to be steamrolled by the political elite.

    I used to like porn, but I tend to conclude that female porn stars aren’t really working there because they perceive that they have a choice. And political brands try to take all the choices away that they may have so they can get votes for driving their powerless peasants to consider welfare to be the more respectable option.

    What porn stars probably really need would be contract assurance sold by a decent champion of their rights just like one might be an agent for a famous fiction writer. Porn may not be so respectable in today’s political environment, but if it were treated that way then maybe more Democrat former porn stars would feel they were not tricked and exploited.

  28. Takeaway from this article : There are people who pay for this shit ?

    Happy to donate for the cause though.

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