Prudish Mastercard About To Make Life Difficult For Tons Of Websites

from the content-moderation-at-the-financial-layer dept

For all the attention that OnlyFans got for its shortlived plan to ban sexually explicit content in response to "pressures" from financial partners, as we've discussed, it was hardly the only website to face such moderation pressures from financial intermediaries. You can easily find articles from years back highlighting how payment processors were getting deeply involved in forcing website to moderate content.

And the OnlyFans situation wasn't entirely out of nowhere either. Back in April we noted that Mastercard had announced its new rules for streaming sites, and other sites, such as Patreon, have already adjusted their policies to comply with Mastercard's somewhat prudish values.

However, as those new rules that were announced months ago are set to become official in a few days, the practical realities of what Mastercard requires are becoming clear, and it's a total mess. Websites have received "compliance packages" in which they have to set up a page to allow reports for potential abuse. In theory, this sounds reasonable -- if there really is dangerous or illegal activity happening on a site, making it easier for people to report it makes sense. But some of it is highly questionable:

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.”

First off "prostitution" and "trafficking" are different things, and lumping them together is already somewhat problematic. As a webmaster explained to Xbiz, this seems to have come from "Morality in Media" -- a horrifically repressed group of prudish busybodies who renamed themselves the "National Center on Sexual Exploitation" (NCOSE) and who were a major force behind FOSTA, which they admitted was part of their plan to outlaw all pornography. Last year, we noted that the group had put a major focus on demanding credit card companies stop working with porn sites, and some of Mastercard's new rules are clearly designed to appease them.

“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.”

Not only that, but every such report is cc'd back to Mastercard, which seems bizarrely stupid. Of course, as we've seen with things like copyright takedowns, having the mechanism means that it will get abused. A lot. And then campaigners like NCOSE will try to use the number of "reports" (not proof of anything actually illegal) as proof of "illegal activity" and push for new regulations.

Also, the rules requiring the form to be linked from every page is likely to have much wider consequences as well:

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.

As we've said in other situations, one of the big questions and concerns that comes about when infrastructure layer partners get into the content moderation game is that it matters how much competition there is the market. If websites could simply drop Mastercard maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal. But, unfortunately, right now, it's hard for a site that wants to accept payments to not work with Mastercard. Both it and Visa (and to a lesser extent, American Express) are basically required if you want to accept payments for anything. Perhaps that will change over time (and things like this might help drive that change). But in the meantime, it certainly appears that a disingenuous and dishonest campaign by a prudish group that hates pornography has convinced Mastercard to make life difficult on lots of websites.

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Filed Under: adult content, content moderation, infrastructure, infrastructure moderation, payment processors, pornography, sex trafficking
Companies: mastercard


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  1. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Oct 2021 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Re: What?

    "Generalize! Let's generalize! Doesn't matter that we haven't met enough people to actually merit saying anything about the group, or that groups are NOT monolithic entities. Everyone is different. Unless you want YOUR group disparaged and generalized against, don't do it to others."

    Well, it certainly helps that every member of such a group most kindly shows up and demonstrates, chapter and verse, why you can safely assume the group as a whole consists of assholes.

    When you stand up to be counted with the religious right? Congratulations, no one gives a shit if your personal opinion happens to not exactly be as outrageous as theirs. If you wore the swastika in 1935 no one gave a rat's ass if you were honest old Karl Gruber heading home to loving wife and kids or Goebbels. If you marched in charlottesville no one gives a rats ass which of the Very Fine People you were with.

    Wear the colors, shoulder that blame. It's that simple.

    "And science and faith are NOT incompatible"

    Except every time science tells us something based on empirical observation and people who believe decide to ignore it and say it's the other way around. Religious assholes have been the enemy of progress since well before the days of Galileo.

    "If something we can detect can do all this, then it's not really a stretch to say that a transcendent, extradimensional Creator could also exist in the same fashion, unbound by our four dimensions of space-time."

    It actually is. We can measure that the particle exists. We can measure it's possible different states. We know it's mass and lifespan. We know it's tresholds of excitation. We know what it's composed of and its role in what we perceive as matter. We can find out, with a great degree of accuracy, under which conditions it will change.

    An almighty invisible transcendent creator? Never perceived, observed, or implied. As imaginary and with all the empirical observation provided by the Flying Spaghetti Monster or that invisible unicorn I'm sure is to blame for always leaving the garden gate unlocked.

    " but what needs to be remembered is that the trigger that sets off any blast is always an external factor"

    ...like "being the other side of a black hole" or a set of vacuum fluctuations which, it has to be recalled, are completely random.
    What little we know of the conditions before the Big Bang suggests that we can not posit any theories - but the idea intelligent life is behind it has, from everything we can know and extrapolate, less backing than the idea it's all a random outcome.

    "The implication shows the existence of the aforementioned Creator..."
    ...if we ignore all of observable reality and substitute our own, yes. Otherwise, no.

    "And neither is demonizing a belief system because of how some prominent supposed members and groups act."

    Organized religion is behind every last one of the most outrageous and persistent atrocities in the world. It has been the bane of science and progress everywhere.

    "Judge the followers by the faith, not the faith by the supposed followers."

    Not when the faith in question can be seen as the core reason so much of the world is shit today, no. At that point you have to ask "What the hell were these supposedly different followers doing?".
    Answer? They stood up to wear the same color and proudly proclaim adherence.
    They chose to keep silent when the "prominent members" led them in a crusade against rationality and reason.

    "Or better yet, don't judge at all. You wouldn't want it done to you."

    That's where we differ.
    When I'm wrong or acting like an asshole, I certainly appreciate it being pointed out. That helps me be a better person. And from what I've seen and heard the secular do this a whole damn sight better than religious people.

    Religious people, from what I've read and experienced, react to any revelation which doesn't fit their narrative in ways ranging from, at best, casual dismissal or ostracism, to at worst, burning the blasphemer alive.

    From blind denial of geocentricity, sanitation benefits and evolution, to resistance versus medicine, law enforcement, equality and climate science, the religious have been in the forefront, leading the crowd and whipping up the congregation in malice. Every. Damn. Time.

    Where the hell were these faithful who so proudly wore the colors and proclaimed their faith? Hiding at the back? Turning a blind eye? Oh, sitting like the german citizenry and quietly keeping their peace lest they be noticed?

    The safe space for the religious is gone. And you have none to blame for that but yourselves. No one wants to hear fairytales forcefullt inserted into a scientific debate revolving around observed fact or posit that we need to take something untouchable and unnoticeable into account when dealing with real world issues.
    So if you want to not be judged, Stop Doing That. It's that simple.


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