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The Monetization of Porn

Nour Qassim Derweesh - Authornour.qassimderweesh@osqledaren.se

Isabelle Holmér - Illustratorosqledaren@ths.kth.se

What is porn? Hot? Simple? Shameful? Enraging? Is it everything and nothing at the same time? Does it make you feel good or make you feel bad? Both?

It’s 3 am. The cold from the outside is seeping through the window and after a long day, cozying up under my blankets is all I want to do. The stress of the day is still taut in my body as I mindlessly scroll through Pornhub. Nothing catches my eye until I focus on the bright colors of some lingerie, I click on the video, lower the volume and get comfortable in bed.

Porn is one of the most readily consumed pieces of content out there. Something that shouldn’t be all that surprising when the top 20 countries by traffic make up 79% of Pornhub’s traffic, as stated in their annual report. A lot of people watch porn, and some even work in the industry. It’s a concept that is familiar to a lot of us, but with that familiarity comes a sinking feeling many people also are aware of. With terms like ‘post nut clarity’ thrown out, it’s no wonder that there’s an established shame that comes from watching certain types of porn. Whether it be something you’d normally not think you’re into, or something that makes you feel uncomfortable, the two experiences go hand in hand.

I am particularly of the belief that some, if not most, of this doubtful shame comes from the uncertainty with a lot of free porn out there. I know I’ve seen videos that have made me pause and worry if what I’m watching actually is consensual. That sentence is a difficult one to type, but so is the potential truth of that. The problem is that we truly don’t know. And when we’ve actually had instances with real people coming out and telling us about their rapes, assults and revenges porn videos being posted on free porn sites, we have a right to be worried. We should be worried when we have no real verification that what we’re seeing is consensual and legal.

When the New York Times pulled the trigger and released all the evidence of the exploitation on Pornhub with the movement of “The Children of Pornhub” things started changing. After almost 2 decades of no real action taken from Pornhub, they finally made a move when their credit card companies, Mastercard and Visa, stopped allowing their cards to be used on the site. Pornhub then rolled out their verification system not too long after. So things can change, but money talks. As amazing and foolishly idealistic it would be to hope for these companies to get struck by a light of morality and righteousness, that would be too easy. However it’s extremely vital to not lose hope here: does it suck that the only real action is through means of money? Yeah absolutely, would it suck even harder if nothing changed? No doubt. And this was Pornhub that was struck with an inability to do nothing, a website with almost 115 million visitors per day. It’s a big move toward the right direction! Even with many other websites infested with the same problems. We can only hope that other companies follow suit and start taking these regulations seriously.

Paid porn is often brought up as a ‘solution’ to this problem, and to a certain extent it’s true. Paying for your porn will indirectly put a safety cap on it. It’s not a perfect solution, and not a wildly viable one either, but it is progress nonetheless. Slapping money on a problem that’s directly caused by money is a positive feedback loop. Because the money and revenue is the issue here, if these companies didn’t make money off of these free sites then they wouldn’t be slow with their actions, but they are because the money is big and our voices are not loud enough. The porn industry is estimated to have an annual revenue of 9 to $97B dollars. A large span that might raise your eyebrows, but can be explained by realizing that porn is both a multi-million dollar industry and something people can do at home. The figures are uncertain at best, and companies aren’t eager to share how much money they make off of the content we watch.

Mindgeek, the parent company that owns Brazzers, Youporn and Pornhub have an estimated annual revenue of $228.2M. There’s a lot of money at play for these websites, so don’t be fooled into thinking that a free website can’t make any money, especially not in the porn industry.

We need to be aware of these things because they’re so deeply baked into our day to day, simply being mindful can go a long way. Going out of your way to find websites that work with ethical porn and verification is one way to be more mindful of what we consume, whilst also keeping in mind that in actuality we won’t ever know the truth, but by following your gut instinct and being source critical you are doing your best. We have to be mindful of the sustainability of our society and the world that exists on the internet, it doesn’t stop being real because of its virtual nature.

Publicerad: 2022-03-31

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Ansvarig utgivare: Carl Housten
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