Mastercard: Webmasters Express Concerns About ‘Report Abuse’ Forms

LOS ANGELES — As the October 15 deadline set by Mastercard for compliance with its new rules for adult websites looms, “compliance packages” created with the input of merchant banks and payment processors have become a subject of concern among content creator and webmaster communities.

XBIZ has been able to review a suggested “Report Abuse” compliance form that is part of compliance packages that several major industry sites have received with instructions to customize before October 15 in order to continue processing credit card transactions.

The form features a checklist of clickable boxes that anyone visiting an adult site is encouraged to use to report what they believe to be “exposed personally identifiable information,” “impersonation,” “underage material,” “copyright/trademark infringement” and “spam” as well as “prostitution or trafficking,” “weapons,” “drugs” and “other.”

One webmaster XBIZ spoke to, who asked not to be identified, highlighted several concerns about the “Report Abuse” checklist.

“We knew something like this was coming as soon as Mastercard announced their new rules, but the checklist makes it crystal-clear,” the webmaster said. “They want us to put a link to this [checklist] in all the footers on every page, encouraging people to ‘report abuse’ or ‘report complaint,’ which is then [copied] directly to Mastercard.”

The webmaster pointed out that both ruthless competitors and crusading anti-porn activists are likely to flood the system with bogus complaints.

“Groups like NCOSE are convinced that all adult content falls under ‘prostitution or trafficking,’” the webmaster noted. “This form is just encouraging them to bury us in paperwork that won’t accomplish anything.”

The webmaster also noted that the form essentially forces all adult sites to add the words “underage material,” “prostitution or trafficking,” “weapons” and “drugs” to their metadata, which then puts them at risk of AI shadowbans or even state surveillance.

“I don’t want that metadata associated with my brands,” they protested.

Another concern is that the “Report Abuse” form could be used by disgruntled partners or stalkers to harass performers.

“Mastercard didn’t make a distinction between types of sites,” said another source familiar with the conversations around the payment processing community. “They asked for the same type of form from paysites or cam sites that they do for user-generated sites. This is particularly absurd since what prompted them to come up with the new rules was supposed ‘trafficking’ on Pornhub.”

The source was referring to the widely reported fact that Mastercard issued these new rules under pressure from political and business partners motivated by Nicholas Kristof’s emotionally exploitative December 4, 2020 New York Times editorial, “The Children of Pornhub.” 

Webmasters and legal observers agree that the demands on studios and paysites don’t make much sense, since they already keep records in compliance with the law, including 2257 forms.

“Mastercard is now making me comply with a form that could harm my brand, and even the models I work with, if I want to continue doing business with them,” the webmaster concluded.

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