By Michelle Price
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Visa and Mastercard on Thursday said they had suspended ties with the advertisement arm of MindGeek, owner of website Pornhub, after a lawsuit raised questions over whether the payment firms could be facilitating child pornography.
A federal judge in California last week 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."
A spokesperson for MindGeek said the company and all of its platforms, including Pornhub, "have never tolerated" child sexual assault content or any other illegal material.
"It is against our values, and it is against our commitment to ensuring the safest possible online experience for our users," the spokesperson said, adding the platform was confident in its safety measures.
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."
(Reporting by Michelle Price; Editing by Sam Holmes)