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Mastercard and Visa investigate Pornhub ties over child abuse allegations

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Key Points
  • A column in The New York Times detailed claims of underage sex, rape and revenge porn videos running rampant on Pornhub.
  • Mastercard and Visa said they were investigating their business relationship with Pornhub and parent company MindGeek.
  • Billionaire investor Bill Ackman said major credit card networks should pause business with Pornhub "until this is fixed."
An image of adult film actress Asa Akira is displayed at the Pornhub booth at the 2018 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas on January 24, 2018.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Mastercard and Visa are investigating their business relationship with Pornhub after allegations that the popular porn site is hosting child sexual abuse content.

The world's largest credit card networks said they could cut ties with Pornhub and its Canadian parent company MindGeek over the issue.

It comes after a column in The New York Times detailed claims of underage sex, rape and revenge porn videos running rampant on Pornhub.

The report cites a number of first-hand accounts from victims who have appeared in such videos. Many said they were left traumatized and suicidal from the ordeal, according to the NYT.

"Any assertion that we allow CSAM (child sexual abuse material) is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue," a Pornhub spokesperson told CNBC.

"Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating CSAM, and has instituted an industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community."

Mastercard is "investigating the allegations raised in the New York Times" and "working with MindGeek's bank to understand this situation," a spokesperson for the company told CNBC.

"If the claims are substantiated, we will take immediate action."

Visa said it is "aware of the allegations" and was "actively engaging" with relevant financial institutions and MindGeek to investigate.

"If the site is identified as not complying with applicable laws or the financial institutions' acceptable use policies and underwriting standards they will no longer be able to accept Visa payments," a Visa spokesperson told CNBC.

Over the weekend, billionaire investor Bill Ackman slammed Pornhub and said that American Express, Visa and Mastercard "should immediately withhold payments or withdraw until this is fixed."

American Express says it has a global policy that prohibits the acceptance of its cards on digital adult content sites.

PayPal, meanwhile, stopped processing payments to Pornhub last year.