This is Not a Loss for Pornhub, Nor A Victory for Us

There’s been a lot of attention paid to Pornhub in the last week on social media following the New York Times running a well-circulated story about underage pornography, rape and sex trafficking that is passively supported by the site. If you haven’t see the story, I urge you to check it out HERE. Other outlets started running their own stories, like this one out of Australia.

The NYT had a followup that tracked the fallout from that story which basically said that Pornhub is going to work on restricting videos from unknown services, they will no longer allow downloads, Mastercard and Visa are going to review their terms of service with Pornhub and there is a group of senators who are crafting legislation what would allow rape and/or revenge porn victims to sue any website that profits off video clips or their exploitation.

These steps are being heralded as great steps forward and a huge leap by online safety advocates. I wish I could be as optimistic, but I know the reality. You can say this is a step, and I guess it is, but it’s like shoveling the driveway in a blizzard. Sure you moved some snow, but it’s just going to be covered over as if nothing happened quickly. Sorry to be the wet blanket.

The Statistics

Pornhub is a very popular pornography website and I’ve written about it plenty of times here before. They produce fantastic analytical data — when they want you to know something. They can also produce fantastic analytical data when they don’t want you to know something. I’ve written about how they pretend nobody under 18 accesses their site and in my book Porn and the Pandemic, I go into length about their sketchy reporting practices.

For instance, when I search the term “incest” here is what is returned:

So, there are no videos involving incest on Pornhub, correct? Well, no. There’s plenty. Let’s search the term “sister” and see what happens:

So while Pornhub wants us to believe that they don’t traffic in incest videos, they absolutely do. Obviously, most of these videos are complete fiction and most even have disclaimers, but if 99% of the sister videos are fake, that still means 453 are real incest. And this is only the category sister. There’s stepsister, mother, mom, cousin, father, son and so on. Add these together and you’re talking over a million incest-themed videos. Even if the average video is only three minutes (it’s actually much longer), that’s 50,000 hours, or 2,083 days, or more than 5 and a half years playing continuously without stopping. And that’s just one genre on Pornhub. The word teen? 155,000 videos.

In all, as of December 10, 2020, Pornhub reports having over 16 million videos. Are you going to try to get me to believe that they actually have a team of people that has seen each and every second of each and every individual video? If that’s their claim, the math betrays them.

Just one of many

Pornhub is one of three websites that regularly trade places for the most popular adult site in the world. Sadly, all are in the top 10 overall visited sites in the world and top 15 in the United States. The other two are and

For November 2020, statistics, including a comparison to during the holiday shopping season — during a pandemic — gathered through show:

Name of site:World Rank of all websitesUS Rank of all websitesTotal VisitsAvg. Time on Site
Pornhub.com10th8th3.31 billion8:53
xvideos.com8th14th3.38 billion10:11
xnxx.com9th12th2.88 billion8:25
Amazon.com11th4th2.91 billion7:26
Data from for November 2020

I don’t think I need to analyze this very much for you. Remove Pornhub from this list and everybody moves up one. For those wondering, the next most popular adult site,, is ranked 14th in the world and 20th in the US with over 1 billion visits. These are just the most popular sites. It doesn’t include the thousands of porn sites that don’t crack the upper echelon.

Solution No. 1 debunked

Isn’t it great that Mastercard and Visa are going to examine their practices when it comes to Pornhub??!! Sure, but we need to recognize that Pornhub isn’t a paid site. Neither are xvideo, xnxx, or xHamster. Sure, they have “premium portals” where you can get access to additional content, but they are a tiny fraction of the company’s overall traffic. For instance, with, that site ranks 156th in the world, 106th in the US, and had about 234 million hits in November 2020, or only 14% the traffic of the free Pornhub site.

The reality is that Pornhub, and these other sites, make their money from paid advertising and affiliate links. When I ran a magazine a decade ago, our subscriptions were only about 3% of the yearly revenue while 97% came from advertising. Visa and Mastercard could ban Pornhub transactions and the site wouldn’t miss a beat.

Solution No. 2 debunked

Pornhub is only going to let verified uploaders put stuff on its website. What does “verified” mean? As I stated above, the mass of content is just too much for even a team of people to be watching porn around the clock. In 2019, it was reported that for every minute of the day, 3 hours of content was uploaded to Pornhub. It was also reported that there were over 10,000 “studios” that uploaded content and over 100,000 amateur models.

I think the best explanation of how this can’t mathematically happen was one I found on

Even if we’ll estimate that just half of content is amateur, which is not so, PornHub would need at least 100 moderators working simultaneously at each moment of time to review every moment of all uploaded videos. I don’t think anyone can view porn for 8 hours per day, so it’s at least 4 shifts. Take into account vacations, and other things, that is easily 500-1000 of trained moderators who will know specific of genres, and will not punish (legal) fetish performers. And they’ll need offices, computers, help of psychologists, security check because they can be source of major leak. I think we are talking about tens of millions of dollars now.

Solution No. 3 debunked

I remember 25 years ago when the biggest deal in the world was that Pamela Anderson and her the-husband, Tommy Lee had a sex tape leaked. Ten years later, it was the Kim Kardashian sex tape. You’ll find both on Pornhub. And xvideo, and every other porn site. In fact, if you Google search “Pamela Anderson sex tape” and then click on video, there are over 200,000 returns.

What’s my point? If you think that the kind of videos that people want to get off Pornhub can only be found on Pornhub, you’re fooling yourself. I guess if a video is on 100 sites and you remove it from one, you’re doing something, but really, how much?

Solution No. 4 debunked

The kind of pornography that the US government wants to limit by letting victims sue the websites is already illegal. If this were actually an issue for the government, why aren’t they using existing laws? Because Pornhub is in the news this week.

Sure, this will probably cause a few of the big companies to tighten their belts a little, but what about the tens of thousands of sites housed in places like Belarus, Sierra Leone or Malaysia? You think the US government is going to pour much money into curtailing their efforts? For every site that goes down, another will just go up, probably two.

This doesn’t even bring into account having to prove what is being depicted on screen is a legitimate rape and not part of some rape fantasy video? I have seen female porn stars talk about being raped on camera, but because they signed away their rights in their waivers and releases, they were told by lawyers they’d have a hard time proving anything in court. Further, I’m not a constitutional scholar, but this seems to be the kind of freedom of speech stuff that some lawyers love to tackle to get their names in the paper.

The Only Actual Solution?

People need to start caring. People need to be taught at an early age that porn can be very bad for them, especially the kind of porn that is being discussed in the linked articles above.

As I cruised through LinkedIn or some of the anti-porn subreddits, I saw people cheering these alleged solutions being brought to the table, but these are the people who would never visit these sites to look at the most vanilla, one-man/one-woman, consenting adult pornography in the first place. They’re certainly not watching the stuff of people being raped, trafficked or obviously underage.

As somebody who used to be a porn addict, and who saw some out there stuff that I know would likely be flagged, I never thought about the plight of the person on the other end of the screen. I just didn’t. I don’t think most people do. At its core, pornography reduces people to a collection of body parts. There is no porn, no matter how consensually made, that isn’t about objectification. People have to determine their lines of morally acceptable objectification when looking at porn and if you’re a Lord of the Flies, man is by nature evil, kind of person, you recognize that lines of acceptable are moveable markers.

Maybe we’ll never get people to care. Maybe we need to scare them away from it by talking about the negatives. Look at porn and the possibilities are there for addiction, porn-induced erectile dysfunction, depressed brain activity, social issues and potentially trouble with the law.

It’s Your Turn

People need to actively want to not look at porn the way most people actively don’t want to use heroin. We need porn, even if it’s legal, to be a socially unacceptable thing. You may say it already is, but ironically, we need to be able to talk about this socially unacceptable thing, and we’re not there yet.

I wish I could cheer this Pornhub crackdown, but I think it’s going to be more of a speed bump. And while we’re all cheering this hollow victory, we’re not looking at the battles we still need to wage.

You want to make a difference? Read the stories I linked to above and have a conversation with your loved ones or friends tonight. Tell your 12-year-old daughter or 13-year-old son about the dangers of pornography. That’s the only solution to this worsening problem. We need to talk about pornography’s harmful effects on us and on society. It is only when people make the decision to stay away because it is in their better interest that it will happen.

Humans, and our world, works off of incentive. Where is the incentive to not look at porn? Until we have buy-in, we’re bringing a leaky pail of water to a five-alarm fire.

Lead Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

7 thoughts on “This is Not a Loss for Pornhub, Nor A Victory for Us

  1. If nothing is, I think Visa and Mastercard’s decisions will get people’s attention. Whether that attention does anything is another question, question, but it gets news attention in a way a lot of things wouldn’t.

    1. It’s certainly getting headlines, and I guess that’s not a bad thing, but my fear is that people will think that the unhealthy porn in this world is somehow now taken care of. None of these articles talk about how big the porn world is, or if these steps will really matter.

  2. You’re right. The laws against child porn are still on the books but no politician or district attorney is going to go after a business that contributes tons of $ to their campaign annually. Greed has infiltrated every aspect of society and there’s little chance of changing that sad and very harmful reality. Laura Ingram just had a doctor on her show last night who didn’t pull the punches when it came to describing the filth that’s available freely to anyone with a smart phone. She showed clips of late night comics who think Pornhub is hilarious. Disturbing. There’s no vaccine for this particular pandemic.

    1. Last year, during their pandemic episodes, Saturday Night Live ran one of their parody commercials about Pornhub. Normalizing the problem doesn’t help anything, but neither does a pyrrhic victory, which I think we’re seeing right now. These headlines may do more harm than good at minimizing the problem.

  3. “At its core, pornography reduces people to a collection of body parts”. – My thoughts exactly, Josh. This is why I repent. I’m so sorry to say this was me. I committed this terrible crime. But no longer. I have been set free. May LOVE rule. May the LIGHT shine.

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