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Bill Ackman wants Visa to pressure Pornhub to ban child pornography

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is demanding that Visa exert its influence to force Pornhub to shut down child pornography from its website after the credit card company was accused of helping it facilitate sex trafficking.

Ackman, the 56-year-old founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to explain why the issue resonated with him so deeply.

“My interest comes from the fact that I have four daughters,” Ackman said on Tuesday.

“When you think about the worst harm — economic, physical, mental harm you can impact upon a human being — it’s having a child trafficked … video of the rape appear. I find it hard to talk about it.”

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman wants Visa to force Pornhub to shut down child pornography on its site.
Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman wants Visa to force Pornhub to shut down child pornography on its site.
Getty Images

Visa was named in a lawsuit filed in California federal court accusing Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, of profiting off of child pornography.

The plaintiff, a woman who was filmed in a sexually explicit video taken by her boyfriend when she was 13 years old, alleges that Visa helped the site facilitate payments toward illicit content.

The federal judge overseeing the case denied Visa’s motion on Friday to remove the company from the lawsuit.

“It’s simple,” US District Court Judge Cormac Carney wrote in the ruling.

Visa was named in a lawsuit filed in California federal court.
Visa was named in a lawsuit filed in California federal court.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Visa made the decision to continue to recognize MindGeek as a merchant, despite its alleged knowledge that MindGeek monetized child porn,” Carney wrote.

“MindGeek made the decision to continue monetizing child porn, and there are enough facts pled to suggest that the latter decision depended on the former.”

In 2020, Ackman publicly urged Visa and Mastercard to reevaluate its ties to Pornhub after a New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof alleged that the site features clips depicting rape scenes, revenge porn, and other videos filmed without consent of the participants.

A woman is suing Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, after a sex video showing her when she was 13 years old was uploaded to the service.
A woman is suing Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, after a sex video showing her when she was 13 years old was uploaded to the service.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

“Remarkably, the company, despite being entirely aware that there’s child pornography on these sites, they continue to provide payment services, until the Kristoff article, and then they shut down the sites overnight which would have bankrupted them,” Ackman said on Tuesday.

“Within a matter of weeks they re-authorized the merchants and started accepting payments again and the crime continues.”

The Post has reached out to Visa, Mastercard, and Pornhub seeking comment.

Ackman told CNBC that he has no financial stake in either Visa or Mastercard. He said he has also offered to help fund legal fees incurred as a result of any action taken against Visa.

“It’s an extreme measure when Visa or Mastercard shuts down a merchant, but a merchant’s business is fundamentally illegal,” Ackman said.

“There’s traditional breach of fiduciary duty when a company has a product or service that can cause harm.”

Visa told CNBC that the company condemns sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and dissemination of child pornography.

“This pre-trial ruling is disappointing and mischaracterizes Visa’s role and its policies and practices. Visa will not tolerate the use of our network for illegal activity,” the Visa spokesperson said.

“We continue to believe that Visa is an improper defendant in this case.”

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