We are fed up with Mastercard's Hollywood hypocrisy

Photo illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos via Getty

On October 15, the careers of thousands of adult performers will be wiped out. Every part of our artistic existence will disappear. We are proud of who we are and the legacy we have created, so the question we all ask Mastercard is why?

Mastercard announced that it will require “banks connecting merchants to our network to confirm that the seller of adult content has effective controls in place to monitor, block and, if necessary, remove any illegal content.” These controls include:

  • Documented age and identity verification of all persons depicted and those uploading the content

  • Content review process before publication

  • Complaints mechanism that addresses illegal or non-consensual content within seven working days

  • Appeal process that allows any person depicted to request the removal of their content

As responsible adult film creators, we have been following U.S. government guidelines since 1995. As you know, production companies are required to maintain 2257 documents. When those guidelines were created, the federal government decided that content created before 2257 was enforced was exempt. However, their upcoming regulations threaten to override the government decision that verified creators have followed for 26 years, thereby creating a law of their own without any input from the very community it oppresses. The requirement to update identification of scenes filmed in the past means that once a performer's identification on file expires, the entire scene or film in which they appeared must be removed.

Think conservatives are censored on social media? Try being a porn star.

Content creators and performers invest their earnings into starting businesses in the hopes of building their brands – just as any business would. When wages stagnated in this country, many workers turned to the adult entertainment industry to provide for their families and themselves. A large portion of our workforce comes from marginalized communities, and your upcoming regulations reinforce the occupational discrimination we face.

We understand that your intent is to protect our community from trafficking and abuse, but some of the upcoming changes could actually put law-abiding, tax-paying workers in situations of potential human trafficking. By forcing the removal of outdated content that falls outside the scope of federal regulations, our workers would lose their income. Many have already been removed from platforms, content deleted, and income cut off as companies began to follow your new rules. As president of the federally recognized union for adult workers, Adult Performance Artists Guild, I have received numerous reports of workers being removed and left with no way to pay their bills because their income was taken away. Your upcoming regulations are already taking their toll, and we fear what the future will bring.

Given the vague description in your upcoming regulations, many mainstream Hollywood films depicting sexual abuse, violence, and underage actors in explicitly sexual situations could easily be seen as violating the new rules – and yet all of these studios and performers will not be targeted and will be allowed to continue processing payments through Mastercard unhindered.

What about the actors who have died? Will the films they starred in be removed because their identities cannot be updated? Will classic films or TV series be erased? Not likely.

As a union and a community, we will not allow our cries to be ignored going forward. This open letter to you, Mastercard, is an opportunity for you to talk to the actual workers you are harming, not just the malicious groups claiming to save us – or, as they put it, “help victims.” If you only listen to one side, you're missing half the conversation. We'd love to bring the conversation to you by walking the picket line outside your headquarters. Zoom works great, too. Your call, Mastercard.

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