Stop Painting Porn Hub as an Innocent Victim

For industry veterans like Cybersocket's Morgan Sommer, the attempts to rally behind Porn Hub are a ludicrous rewriting of history around a company that destroyed the porn ecosystem.

I do not feel sorry for Porn Hub, Mind Geek, or for anyone who’s worried about them. And the attempt to paint them as victims is an attempt to rewrite the story.

Some of us have been in business for a long time, and we have managed to thread various needles for decades. What Porn Hub did was come along out of nowhere and use muscle and extortion, honestly, to force its way into and kneecap the industry and the traditional traffic patterns it had. If you want to call it a disruptor, great, but it was still destructive. And all the people I know who are serious business people and who didn’t want to be extorted by companies like Porn Hub aren’t sad about it or feeling threatened at all. They’re feeling optimistic. So my peer group, the people who have been in the porn industry for a long time, they’re feeling pretty good right now. 

Visa and Mastercard… It’s a label for a consortium of global banks that agreed to a credit system. They have never wanted to get rid of porn. They don’t want to get rid of porn or adult content. They want high risk merchants to play by the rules that they and the government set, and they want to keep charging us the extra fees that normal merchants don’t have to pay. There is no real risk from Visa and Mastercard.  [Note: If you sell adult products or content, the type of merchant account you can get is called a “high risk” merchant account, and for several reasons it is subject to higher fees.]

There have been so many complaints for so long about Porn Hub not playing by the real rules of the game. Many of us who have been producing content or have subscription sites have had to fight to get unauthorized content removed. And it was always a pain. Every time we get a thousand files removed, there’s another thousand on there. They claimed there was no way to remove user-submitted content. No way, it seems, unless they hope to change minds at Visa and Mastercard. Suddenly the impossible became possible overnight.

RELATED: Adult Performance Artists Guild Releases a Statement Regarding MasterCard and Visa’s Decision to No Longer Allow Cardholders to Make Pornhub Charges

Here’s my conspiracy theory. This is no different than certain members of organized criminal organizations being finally charged with tax evasion or other minor crimes. We know [Mindgeek] has been under investigation in various countries around the world. This is just one of those things that kind of came down the pike. And I think the risk factor for Visa and Mastercard just became too high. I think they’re really amoral. They’re not here to censor or judge anything. 

We’ve seen attempts to curtail the porn industry many times before. 2257 was being rigorously enforced under the Bush administration. But remember, many of the people who went to jail were the people on the outer fringes of production. And people enforcing it were often looking for career advancement. 

Mastercard and Visa aren’t attempting to control anything, they’re just minimizing risk. They must have decided this company was no longer worth the risk. There were many millions of dollars being made from Porn Hub.

Ultimately, every one of us who has a high risk merchant account is very aware that we have higher thresholds we have to adhere to. I have regular merchant accounts that pay significantly less money per transaction. But everyone who has a high risk account should be aware that they have additional considerations, and be really clear on their policies for cancelations and refunds. Twenty years ago, if [some adult companies] got your credit card number, they ran it as many times as they possibly could. And people were suddenly losing merchant accounts and thought they were being treated unfairly. And Visa and Mastercard said, “No, we’re going to put everything under more scrutiny.” 

I’m not a fan of government intrusion into business except when businesses become abusive. When I first sold Porn Hub a sponsorship to an event, I remember the reaction I got from other people in the business. Some of them were mad at me. But over time it became harder and harder to be neutral about it, especially after I saw the traffic really radically change. And people who were in business either had to pay Porn Hub a lot of money or go out of business. Because of Porn Hub everyone lost money, and many did go out of business.

If we believed in completely unadulterated capitalism, you’d see it as a survival of the fittest. I don’t think we live in that society. And I don’t want to live in a world where unfettered capitalism is the best world.

The Gay Goods is dedicated to engaging with a range of opinions and viewpoints. To share yours, email editor@thegaygoods.com.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you, Morgan! And thanks to TheGayGoods for this. FINALLY. Like so many others, my husband and I are so sick of hearing about MindGeek (PornHub etc) as the victims. Bullshit. Mindgeek is the largest and most lucrative criminal operation we have seen in more than a decade, having stolen and profited from stolen goods from the start…and continue to this point today. All the legit pay sites they run were purchased with money from stolen goods, after driving down the price of whatever pay site they wanted to buy, by giving away their content for free first.

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