MONTREAL -- Independent pornography creators say Montreal-based streaming giant Pornhub may be too big to fail, but the turmoil surrounding the company will primarily negatively impact those who rely on the site for income.

“People don't have as much disposable income right now and we're a luxury service. We're one of the first things to go when people don't have a lot of disposable money. I have a few friends who don't know how they're going to pay rent and feed their families next month because their main income is Pornhub and they can't sell their videos," said British Columbia-based adult performer and producer Amber Haze.

According to Haze, until recently, verified uploaders were able to monetize Pornhub in a variety of ways, including by earning ad revenue through views of their videos, selling access to individual clips and selling premium memberships. However, with credit card companies Visa, MasterCard and Discovery all severing business ties to Pornhub in the wake of allegations that Pornhub was home to child sexual abuse material, Haze says much of the money has dried up.

Initially the company said these claims were “irresponsible and flagrantly untrue.” A spokesperson for Pornhub declined to comment recently other than to refer CTV News to a statement released after the credit card companies announced they would no longer work with the site.

“These actions are exceptionally disappointing, as they come just days after Pornhub instituted the most far-reaching safeguards in user-generated platform history,” they said. “This news is crushing for the hundreds of thousands of models who rely on our platform for their livelihoods.”

Pornhub, which is owned by Montreal company Mindgeek, has long been scrutinized for the content it hosts. That focus came to a head earlier this month after a New York Times story claimed the site was home to videos featuring unconsenting participants, sexual assaults and children. Last week, the site purged all videos uploaded by non-verified users, accounting for 80 per cent of its content according to a La Presse analysis.

Haze noted that Pornhub's monetization system made it so that only verified users were able to make money via credit cards, but that until the unverified content was purged, Pornhub itself could still earn money via ad revenue on those accounts.

“In order for content to be monetized on Pornhub for an individual, you have to be verified. Previously, anyone could upload anything but you couldn't get paid for those videos,” she said. “Basically, any illegal or exploitative videos weren't monetized by VISA or MasterCard in any way. It basically made it so we couldn't get paid but the illegal videos could still earn ad revenue until they were removed.”

Haze said she has been creating her own erotic content for three years and has had a presence on Pornhub for the past year and a half. She estimated that only a small percentage of her monthly income is based on selling clips on Pornhub but “it's still a hit, especially during a pandemic when things are already slow... For me, it's a small income loss but it's still a loss.”

Other creators said the credit card companies' decision to split with Pornhub is having little effect on their income. A Montreal couple who produce videos of themselves under the name Cakes and Foxy said that they haven't seen much of a dent as they focus less on paid content and more on ad revenue, which brings in roughly $400 a month.

The pair has been making pornographic content together for about a year and are trying to use their Pornhub videos as a means to build an online brand that isn't limited to sexual content. Despite all the controversy, the sheer name recognition that Pornhub enjoys makes it an alluring place to upload content, said Cakes and Foxy.

Many creators, such as Haze, rely on Pornhub's sizable share of the online adult content market to reach larger audiences, posting free teaser videos in order to attract potential clients to their paid presence on other platforms like OnlyFans.

Haze expressed misgivings over how the company has conducted itself in the past. Though her page is still up, the site has temporarily suspended options to purchase content.

“I definitely don't agree with all of Pornhub's practices, but it's unfortunate they had to wait so long and we were losing money before they actually did something,” she said.