Mastercard recently updated their adult content guidelines to “ensure proper monitoring”

Mastercard has made headlines recently by following suit to Visa in removing payment processing from Pornhubs clip platform Modelhub and is now increasing stringency for adult content merchants to “ensure proper monitoring” of content by adult merchants. Religious organizations and anti-pornography extremists have rallied to pressure payment processing services to disconnect with adult entirely and as an effort to appease these groups many payment processors are continuing to enact nearly impossible terms and conditions upon adult merchants in what they claim is an effort to “prevent victimization of individuals” when in reality it is primarily jeopardizing legal independent sex workers that are using various adult merchants to host and sell content.

Mastercard updates going into effect on October 15th, 2021

According to MasterCard, from their “What Mastercard is Doing” explanation given in the bulletin update, the reasoning for the updates are as follows: “Mastercard prohibits merchants from processing any transaction that is illegal, or that may damage the goodwill of the corporation or reflect negatively on the marks. Merchants that provide online adult content require heightened scrutiny due to the nature of the content and the increased likelihood of illegal or brand-damaging activities when the proper monitoring and controls are not in place.” The updates include many new rules that will increase the efforts required by websites to continue the sale of adult content, including:

    The new requirements are described in detail in the revised standards. As an overview, merchants that engage
    in the provision of adult content and services will be required to:

  • Enter into written agreements with third-party users that upload or generate content for the merchant’s website, which include provisions relating to written consent of persons depicted, and identity and age verification of persons depicted;
  • Only permit content uploads from verified content providers;
  • Have a process for verifying the age and identity of third-party users that upload or generate content;
  • Review all uploaded content prior to publication to ensure it is not illegal or otherwise in violation of the Mastercard standards;
  • Be able to fully control its platform used for live streaming, including real-time monitoring and content removal;
  • Allow a person depicted in content can appeal for its removal;
  • Ensure merchant marketing and search terms do not give the impression that its content contains child exploitation materials or depiction of nonconsensual activities;
  • With respect to content that is potentially illegal or otherwise in violation of the Mastercard standards:
    – not use such content to draw users to the website;
    – have a complaint process for the reporting, review, and if warranted, removal of such content; and
    – provide monthly reports to the acquirer of such flagged content, along with any complaints received and relevant actions taken in response; and
  • Have effective policies in place that prohibit the merchant’s website from being used to promote or facilitate human trafficking, sex trafficking, or physical abuse.

What Mastercards new guidelines mean for adult

A majority of the guidelines being added are things that we commonly practice in the adult industry already, 2257 documentation already has many of the standards covered. The stand-out guideline that could cause stress on adult merchant websites especially those geared towards hosting large quantities of adult performers is: “Review all uploaded content prior to publication to ensure it is not illegal or otherwise in violation of the Mastercard standards” which means any piece of content uploaded to a platform that offers Mastercard as a payment option is legally required by Mastercard to review the entirety of the content prior to allowing public viewing/sales. While this guideline seems good in theory, in practice it will create a backlog of viewing for support/team members at adult merchant websites, limit the ability to offer sexual services “in real time” like sexting with video or photo, limit the ability for a performer to upload on a specific schedule, and ultimately will cost adult merchant websites thousands of dollars to review content. It also seems to be indicated that live streams should also be monitored but the language is unclear on if real-time monitoring is necessary or should only be possible. The guidelines also now require adult merchant websites to provide free access to paywall items for review as necessary. It is unclear if content will need to be reviewed retroactively.

Adult merchant websites already require all of a verified uploaders identifying information including government issued photo identification and social security number, if the true intent of Mastercard and religious organizations was to prevent CSAM they would simply take full legal action against the verified uploader who posts the content rather than create an impossible “big brother-esque” system to further inconvenience and alienate sex workers and companies who take the financial and professional risk of hosting them. Asking adult merchants to review every piece of content uploaded also leads to the question, do we now hold the adult merchant responsible if something illegal is passed through this system? How can an adult merchant be sure of the age or willingness of an individual in a piece of content when often times adult content caters to roleplay scenarios? These are questions that will unfortunately only be answered through practice of the new system, and the strange guidelines some performers have seen on Chaturbate like “no stuffed animals because it indicates you’re underage” will more than likely become widespread understood rules when creating content for sale on adult websites.

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