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Bulletins

Mastercard, Visa cut off Pornhub

The decisions come after an investigation by the New York Times into Pornhub's content moderation practices.

Mastercard, Visa cut off Pornhub

Mastercard and Visa were both payment partners of Pornhub.

Image: Mastercard

Mastercard and Visa will no longer process payments to Pornhub, spokespersons confirmed to Protocol.


The developments come after an investigation by the New York Times found that the porn site allowed users to upload adult videos with minors, among other troubling allegations.

"Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site. As a result, and in accordance with our policies, we instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance," the company said in an emailed statement.

Mastercard will also investigate whether its cards are used to support "potential illegal content" on other websites.

In an emailed statement, Visa said the recent allegations of illegal activity led to the company "suspending Pornhub's acceptance privileges pending the completion of our ongoing investigation."

"At Visa, we are vigilant in our efforts to stamp out illegal activity on our network, and we encourage our financial institution partners to regularly review their merchants' compliance of our standards on this and other platforms," Visa said.

Power

Yes, GameStop is a content moderation issue for Reddit

The same tools that can be used to build mass movements can be used by bad actors to manipulate the masses later on. Consider Reddit warned.

WallStreetBets' behavior may not be illegal. But that doesn't mean it's not a problem for Reddit.

Image: Omar Marques/Getty Images

The Redditors who are driving up the cost of GameStop stock just to pwn the hedge funds that bet on its demise may not be breaking the law. But this show of force by the subreddit r/WallStreetBets still represents a new and uncharted front in the evolution of content moderation on social media platforms.

In a statement to Protocol, a Reddit spokesperson said the company's site-wide policies "prohibit posting illegal content or soliciting or facilitating illegal transactions. We will review and cooperate with valid law enforcement investigations or actions as needed."

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.

The failed Visa merger was a lucky break for Plaid

Plaid COO Eric Sager says the deal's collapse won't derail the fintech startup.

In some ways, Plaid stands to benefit after its big deal with Visa fell through.

Image: Jonas Leupe/Unsplash

Plaid spent most of 2020 preparing to be gobbled up by Visa. Heading into 2021, it's going it alone again — and with a potentially higher valuation and newfound freedom from a giant corporation, it might be better off.

If it had gone through, the merger with Visa would have combined a rising star of the fintech revolution with one of the old guards of the financial services industry. But Visa said last week that it was ditching the $5.3 billion deal to avoid a "protracted and complex" legal battle with the Justice Department, which had sued to block what it considered an anticompetitive merger.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

In the card space, Visa is using the pandemic to grow virtual acceptance.

Photo: Stephen Phillips/Unsplash

For Visa's Kevin Phalen, comparisons between the pandemic's economic impact and the 2008-2009 financial crisis aren't fair. The current situation is far more wide-reaching. But so, too, he says, are the opportunities to overhaul the B2B payments space.

Phalen, the head of global business solutions at the financial services giant, works with businesses of all sizes to expand Visa's network through both card and non-card transactions. In the wake of the pandemic, he's seen the ecosystem for the slow-to-change payments infrastructure soften toward modernization efforts and views 2021 as a year where the company can keep extending its reach.

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Kevin McAllister

Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is an associate editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.

Protocol | China

More women are joining China's tech elite, but 'Wolf Culture' isn't going away

It turns out getting rid of misogyny in Chinese tech isn't just a numbers game.

Chinese tech companies that claim to value female empowerment may act differently behind closed doors.

Photo: Qilai Shen/Getty Images

A woman we'll call Fan had heard about the men of Alibaba before she joined its high-profile affiliate about three years ago. Some of them were "greasy," she said, to use a Chinese term often describing middle-aged men with poor boundaries. Fan tells Protocol that lewd conversations were omnipresent at team meetings and private events, and even women would feel compelled to crack off-color jokes in front of the men. Some male supervisors treated younger female colleagues like personal assistants.

Within six months, despite the cachet the lucrative job carried, Fan wanted to quit.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a Reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

People

The pandemic is doing to credit cards what iTunes did to CDs

Mastercard's head of digital solutions explains how the pandemic has upended the way we buy.

Mastercard's head of digital solutions says the pandemic has forced many consumers to reconsider how they think about paying for things, and thinks many of those changes will last.

Photo: Courtesy of Mastercard

How many times have you used your credit card since the pandemic started?

In just a few months, the pandemic has upended the way that many people are paying for things. People who rarely bought things online are now ordering all their groceries via Instacart, and the few times they've gone outside they've likely also turned to digital and contactless payment methods. Much of that behavior is likely to stick around once life returns to normal, according to Jorn Lambert, Mastercard's EVP of digital solutions.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

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