Visa’s Troubled Child Porn Lawsuit with Pornhub

Visa has suspended payments for ad purchases made through Pornhub and its parent company MindGeek after a lawsuit was filed against them for allegedly facilitating the distribution of child porn.

Serena Fleites: The story of a child porn victim

Serena Fleites became enamored by an older student at her school when she was 13 years old. Fully aware of her feelings, the boy coerced her into sending him nude videos of herself.

Soon after, Serena became aware that numerous boys at her school were viewing the videos, which had also made their way to Pornhub. She was simultaneously ridiculed by students while being threatened that her parents would receive the content if she didn’t continue making the videos.

Emotionally and psychologically destroyed, the once straight A student dropped out of school, became homeless, started using heroin and attempted suicide.

Pornhub’s role in child porn

With the help and encouragement of others, Serena eventually filed a class action lawsuit against Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek and Visa.

The lawsuit alleges the following:

  • “Plaintiff’s then-boyfriend pressured her into making the video and posted it without her knowledge or consent;
  • MindGeek also took the video and posted it to its other pornography websites;
  • The video garnered 400,000 views by the time Plaintiff discovered it; and
  • MindGeek earned revenue from advertisements that appeared alongside the video.”

According to the lawsuit, MindGeek was informed by Serena (who was pretending to be her mother at the time) that the video was child pornography. MindGeek acknowledged this but took several weeks to remove the video, during which time the video was downloaded and reuploaded numerous times.

The lawsuit further alleges that during that time, “MindGeek earned advertisement revenue from the reuploads and posted the reuploads to its other pornographic websites as well.”

In its defense, MindGeek attempted to claim that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields internet providers from liability of 3rd-party actions, but U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney disagreed. He said that MindGeek could be considered a publisher by law since it allegedly provides its users tools, such as categories and titles like “under-age,” that direct them to child pornography.

Visa’s role in the child porn lawsuit

The lawsuit also alleges that Visa was fully aware of the child pornographic content on Pornhub and other similar sites owned by MindGeek. Despite this, the company continued accepting financial transactions from the websites, thereby helping to facilitate the distribution of child porn.

Visa has denied these allegations, saying, “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.”

Visa’s motion to be dropped from the lawsuit is denied

In his ruling, Judge Carney stated:

“At this early stage of the proceedings, before Plaintiff has had any discovery from which to derive Visa’s state of mind, the Court can comfortably infer that Visa intended to help MindGeek monetize child porn from the very fact that Visa continued to provide MindGeek the means to do so and knew MindGeek was indeed doing so. Put yet another way, Visa is not alleged to have simply created an incentive to commit a crime, it is alleged to have knowingly provided the tool used to complete a crime.”

Because of these facts, Judge Carney denied Visa’s motion to be dropped from the class action lawsuit with MindGeek.

Contact an experienced sex crime defense attorney

It’s no surprise that sex crimes involving children come with harsh penalties. But not everyone accused of a sex crime is guilty of the charges against them. If you or a loved one is facing a sex crime charge and needs the assistance of an attorney, contact The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp in Houston today to help protect your rights.

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