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A Lawsuit Against Pornhub and Parent Company MindGeek, Also Includes Visa — Here's Why

Robin Hill-Gray - Author
By

Aug. 4 2022, Published 4:35 p.m. ET

Adult content site PornHub is facing legal action over the site's alleged intentional monetizing of child porn. However, Pornhub isn't the only company on the hot seat. The case is titled Serena Fleites vs. Mindgeek.

The plaintiff, Serena Fleites had a non-consensual video of her entitled "13-Year Old Brunette Shows Off For The Camera" taken and posted to Porn Hub without her knowledge.

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According to the lawsuit documentation, the video was posted and MindGeek posted the video to the other pornography websites it owned. The video got 400,000 before Fleites had known it was posted. MindGeek's monetization of the video allowed the company to gain revenue from the ads posted around the video.

So who is Mindgeek? MindGeek is the company that owns and operates Pornhub and its many other spin-off sites. Included in the case as a defendant is the financial services company Visa. Here are all the details of the case explained.

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Why is Visa involved in the case alongside Pornhub?

The lawsuit suggests that Visa is as culpable as Mindgeek and Pornhub in third-party and here's why. Per the lawsuit, it was alleged that Visa was well aware that MindGeek's sites such as Pornhub knowingly allow third-party users to upload child porn.

The child porn videos were then aggressively monetized. "Visa was aware of MindGeek's trafficking venture and explicitly agreed with MindGeek to process the financial transaction from which the defendants profited from the venture," the lawsuit reads.

Visa has maintained through the case that it was unaware and did not intend to profit off crime, especially that which sexually exploits minors. However, history says otherwise. The lawsuit extensively reports how Visa was made aware several times both in public and in private that Pornhub was profiting off child porn, and by default so was Visa.

Paypal ended its business relationship with MindGeek in 2019 over child porn concerns.

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The suit claims that numerous anti-sex trafficking coalitions sent several letters and emails to Visa explaining MindGeek's complicity in the crime of distributing child pornography to which Visa allegedly replied, "Maintaining a neutral stance under the law is vital for free flow of commerce."

Visa was not compelled to act regarding its dealings with MindGeek until The New York Times 2019 report of the child porn issue with MindGeek. Visa temporarily suspended dealings with MindGeek.

In response, MindGeek removed a disturbing 80 percent of its content or 10 million videos. After time passed, Visa resumed doing business with MindGeek and "restored services for MindGeek's paid premium sites and for advertising on all its sites."

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Visa's stance in the case:

Visa is arguing that those responsible for the distress caused by the video of Fleites are MindGeek and third-party users that posted the videos. Fleites attempted to contact MindGeek several times to get the video removed, which was a painfully long process due to the fact that MindGeek reportedly asked for physical proof that Fleites was the child in the video.

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Visa is continuing to suggest that it has no control over what MindGeek does and it is the responsibility of Mindgeek and MindGeek alone to ensure that the content posted is legal. However, the lawsuit claims that given Visa's previous move of temporarily suspending business with MindGeek (which cause the company to scrub 80 percent of its content) it's evident that Visa had more control over MindGeek's actions than Visa lets on.

The lawsuit says, the FAC supports the inference that Visa "draws the informal boundaries" regarding what type of content are considered to be profitable or "fair game for its payment network, the mechanism through which MindGeek earns profit," and that when MindGeek is criticized for its content, Visa reprimands and MindGeek responds to it.

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A judge denies Visa's motion to dismiss.

The court denied Visa's motion to be taken off the case on the claim that it was complicit and conspired with MindGeek to profit off of the videos but granted Visa's motion to dismiss the claim that the company knowingly and intentionally participated in the sex trafficking of minors.

Other financial companies such as Mastercard have suspended payments from Pornhub and other MindGeek sites. Visa put out a statement condemning the court's decisions and condemning any form of sex trafficking and sexual abuse, especially that of minors.

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has thrown his support behind Fleites calling the issue, the "most egregious corporate governance failures" he has ever witnessed.

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