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PayPal abruptly cuts off Pornhub’s payroll, leaving performers with few payment options

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PayPal’s decision affects ‘over a hundred thousand performers’

The 2018 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic

Pornhub said on Wednesday that PayPal would no longer support payments to Pornhub performers (via Vice). In a blog post, Pornhub said that it was “devastated” by the decision, which cuts off the primary way it pays “over a hundred thousand performers.”

In a statement given to Vice, PayPal said that the company discovered that “Pornhub has made certain business payments through PayPal without seeking our permission. We have taken action to stop these transactions from occurring.” PayPal told Gizmodo that these “business payments” apply to payments to performers. And PayPal’s acceptable use policy also forbids “certain sexually oriented materials or services,” which, as Vice points out, is murky enough phrasing to give PayPal leeway to make decisions like this.

Pornhub tells The Verge that the decision affects performers who are part of Pornhub’s Model Program, which lets individuals upload their own videos and earn advertising revenue from those videos. The company is pointing performers toward its other payment options including check, direct deposit, the Paxum e-wallet, and the Verge cryptocurrency (no relation to The Verge). Pornhub tells us that it will “continue to add more sex worker-friendly” ways to get paid and that it’s exploring more crypto options as well.

It seems like a reach to expect the hundred thousand performers to switch over to a single type of cryptocurrency for their paychecks, though, and direct deposit may also be dicey for some: a number of banks refuse to serve sex workers, according to this list compiled by Survivors Against SESTA. Pornhub explained last year that PayPal was a key alternative to banks: “PayPal specifically is a method of payment that many people, who may not have the luxury of a bank account, rely on to get paid,” the company wrote.

PayPal’s decision to drop Pornhub appears to have been sudden, as some have expressed dissatisfaction on having to scramble to find a way to receive payments (though Pornhub seems to be helping out):

The notice also seems to have gone out to people whose videos were wrongly uploaded to Pornhub, insulting at least one person.

Update, November 14th, 7:35PM ET: Added additional context about PayPal from Gizmodo’s reporting.