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Are Free Tube Sites Growing or Killing the Porn Industry? Both, Here’s Why

2.1Kshares Porn, as we all know all too well, is everywhere. What used to be confined to adult theaters and magazines, videotapes, and DVDs is now available…

By April 29, 2021July 7th, 2021No Comments
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The porn industry has never been worth more, but it’s also never been in more financial trouble. Ironic, right? Free porn sites have completely dismantled the industry from the inside, forcing performers to do more extreme acts on camera for more money, or sometimes sell sex on the side to make ends meet.

Porn, as we all know all too well, is everywhere. What used to be confined to adult theaters and magazines, videotapes, and DVDs is now available at the fingertips of anyone with a phone, tablet, computer, and internet connection. So the people performing in porn, making porn, and selling porn must be rich, right?

Not exactly.

With the rise of so-called “tube sites”—free sites modeled after YouTube with tons of videos that have been freely uploaded by users and can often be downloaded as well—making money off of porn has become increasingly difficult for performers themselves. But for porn site owners and porn company owners, the new tube dynamics are beneficial for their bottom lines.

As an Ethics Committee of Canada’s Parliament hearing in February 2021, executives of a company called MindGeek that owns and operates the majority of what is commonly understood to be the mainstream porn industry were questioned based on reports that videos of child exploitation, trafficking, and rape were uploaded to one of their porn sites, Pornhub. The MindGeek executives testified that the revenue from their porn sites, of which MindGeek owns and operates over 100, comes from advertisements (at least 50% of it), subscriptions, and selling user data. Many porn tube sites operate in similar ways.

So, as you can see, this is rich news for porn site owners, but less good news for porn performers themselves who appear in content on porn sites.

Related: The Problems With Paying For Porn Or Watching For Free

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The unbundling of the porn industry

According to a story published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a porn producer who was interviewed gave this overview of what’s happened in the porn industry. We’ll call him M.S.:

“We had a goose that was laying golden eggs at one point in time. We were going around collecting the eggs, but we didn’t really protect the goose.”

That loss of revenue—the end of a steady stream of “golden eggs”—has changed the porn industry in major, and probably irreversible, ways. Most porn used to be produced by major studios, but now those studios are basically gone, marginalized, or put out of business entirely by the increasing amount of free and self-produced content on porn tube sites. Increasingly, M.S. says performers are producing and publishing their own content online via subscription services that allow for more interactivity and control of the product.

Related: Is Making An OnlyFans Worth It?

“The future of pornography,” according to M.S., “is the [performer who] makes [their] own product and markets it to [their] own audience.”

At least, in theory, this provides performers with increased control, and means they don’t have to share their profits with any studios or agencies. The rise of OnlyFans, too, has added to this control, in theory, though it is far from a perfect platform.

The other side of the coin

A more controlled product sounds like a good thing for everybody, right? For performers, more independence and control mean safer working conditions, better income, and the right to decide for oneself whether porn is actually what they want to be doing.

To an extent, that’s true—M.S. says that the personal subscription-based services give performers the ability to avoid the increasingly destructive and extreme product produced by the mainstream porn industry.

“It seems the [studio-produced] product has gotten more aggressive [and] violent,” he says. “[It] portrays sex in a manner I’m not comfortable with.”

RelatedThe Problem With Saying “If You Don’t Like Porn, Don’t Watch It”

Yes, more control allows performers to do only what they’re comfortable doing. But the porn industry’s shift away from its studio-based roots hasn’t completely made porn a safe, ethical, or healthy industry.

As studios have become increasingly obsolete, many performers have found themselves out of work, out of money, and without any quality alternatives. That’s led more and more, according to M.S., to involvement in selling sex just to pay the bills—whether with enthusiastic consent or not.

“When I came into the business in 1992, we were very tight-knit,” he says. “Nobody in the industry was [selling sex on the side] and if they were, they were keeping it way, way under the radar. Nowadays, I can actually count the number of girls who don’t [sell sex] on one hand.”

Obviously, porn performers being forced into selling sex by circumstances beyond their control isn’t a healthy or sustainable thing.

But why do they do it?

Fading though it might be, the mainstream porn industry is already closely linked to violence, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking, things that no person should ever have to face.

Performers having more control, on the flip side, can be safer than getting abused by a studio or getting trafficked. But since the idea of self-produced porn is relatively new, there aren’t a lot of facts and figures to demonstrate that it’s substantially better or safer than the traditional model, so claims that it certainly is are largely unproven. As with anything, it’s likely that more problems will become clear as this model becomes more popular and more performers end up taking the self-produced and distributed route.

Already, some potential problems are becoming clear, at least with self-produced platforms like OnlyFans.

Related: 5 Ways Porn Can Harm Your Brain, Body, And Quality Of Life

Paula Hall, a sex and porn addiction therapist, says sexcam addicts make up an increasingly large number of clients who come to her seeking help, and that users become hooked on these fantasies that feel more like a personal relationship than free porn. Her comments can also relate to what OnyFans consumers expect and experience on the platform:

“People start spending more time and money than they intend to… They keep chasing the same dopamine hit. They start noticing they are not spending time with loved ones, or are leaving the club early to spend more time on these sites. They might then gravitate toward using them at work. Often it ends with them using the work computer. That can end their career and I’ve seen people lose a marriage over it.”

The lines between reality and fantasy can become blurred as consumers are given a fleeting, intoxicating peek into a performer’s world. This fake intimacy has the power to pull consumers in—especially given that buyers can direct chat to make the interactions seem even more real.

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One OnlyFans creator says when it comes to the content fans request via private messages, things can get really weird. “I’ll post it then, you know, make it sound more exciting than it actually was. I’ll say, ‘Tip me if you want to know exactly what happened….I’m not going to put a photo of me having a crap day on my Only Fans or me crying or in my pajamas because that’s not going to get me anything. So they’re only seeing the good things.”

It’s clear that introducing this paid content model on social media has had a dramatic effect on the influencer industry as a whole, too. Instead of influencers being paid by companies to endorse certain products or services, the money now comes directly from subscribers—who dictate what content is produced by what they’re willing to pay for. The pressure for someone to sell more than they originally intended can quickly become overwhelming.

Related“You’re Gonna Be A Star”: The Day I Was Raped On A Porn Set

Before lockdown, OnlyFans creators held the power and could determine their prices. But with the recent influx of creators looking to make some extra cash, many are being influenced by competitiveness and manipulated by consumers out of fear of them moving on to someone else. Newcomers are undercharging and doing more explicit content faster and for less money.

OnlyFans claims to have the power to “make you rich.” Creators can be vulnerable and tempted by this promise of wealth, but for many, a dark reality soon hits.

Another creator who directs buyers to her OnlyFans page via the hashtag #nudesforsale on Twitter says, “It’s horrible when people demand you to do something so flat-out… Obviously, you don’t want to be treated as an object, but at the same time it’s what you’re signing yourself up for.”

Another creator named Eve works for the UK government but uses OnlyFans to supplement her income.

“The downside is that they can say some really explicit things to you,” Eve said. “When I first started I felt like I had to go along with it because they were paying—I didn’t want them to unsubscribe. A lot of the time I feel like it’s bordering on sexual assault.”

Consider that, when you watch porn, there’s no way to know what kind of “consent” the actors have given. You can’t assume, just because someone appears in a porn video, that they knew beforehand exactly what would happen or that they had a real choice or the ability to stop what was being done. This is true for the industry as a whole, including self-produced content. Even underage and abusive content exists on self-produced porn platforms like OnlyFans.

And even assuming all the content is consensual and safely produced, it’s still a toxic product that fuels the demand for exploitation as a whole.

Related: Would Fixing The Porn Industry’s Exploitative Business Practices Nix Porn’s Harms?

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So, is the solution paying for porn?

The reality is, paying for porn whether through a porn tube subscription or a site like OnlyFans won’t erase the inherent issues with the industry itself and the product it sells.

When a consumer pays to watch porn, that money directly fuels the industry that supports the abuse, exploitation, and trafficking around the world. And supporting pay-to-view porn sites or getting a subscription/monthly membership to any porn site means directly financially supporting an industry that often ignores the abusive experiences of performers or blacklists performers who speak out on abusive practices.

Related: Not All Porn Is Consensual. Don’t Believe It? Just Ask These Performers.

Of course, not every performer in the adult entertainment industry has been trafficked or severely abused, however, contributing financially is contributing to the issue and the growing demand for sexual exploitation overall.

Not to mention that contributing money to porn is financially fueling an industry that is known for miseducating young people about sex, profiting from racist ideals, and fueling behaviors and beliefs that hurt relationships and individuals.

We are not claiming that all porn is nonconsensual, but rather, raising awareness that there is often no way to tell if the porn a consumer views is completely consensual or produced with coercion.

Note that even porn that was produced in professional studios also abuse and exploit their performers.

If you’re not convinced content on mainstream sites isn’t all consensual, read this Jezebel.com storythis story on Daily Beastthis story on Complex.comthis Rolling Stone storythis Bustle.com storythis story on CNNthis NY Post storythis Gizmodo.com storythis BBC reportthis Florida Sun-Sentinel reportthis Daily Wire storythis Buzzfeed News profileand this UK Independent story for further proof that the mainstream porn industry features nonconsensual videos and videos of trafficked individuals. And yes, this includes videos on Pornhub and other mainstream porn sites.

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Why this matters

And as always, one of the biggest questions is, “What next?” A porn performer’s career generally has a very short lifespan, and performing in porn doesn’t often set them up well for a different career—in fact, being associated with porn can have catastrophic consequences for performers who try to find jobs outside of the industry.

Related: TikTok Videos Of Underage Teens Are Reportedly Being Stolen And Uploaded To Pornhub

Suggesting that the new trends in the porn industry are somehow a cure-all for these problems just isn’t true. It’s important to remember that porn, no matter how it’s done, isn’t a recipe for success, and encouraging performers to participate because the new models are “better” and “safer” just isn’t ethial or responsible. Because there’s no such thing as “ethical porn” or “healthy porn.”

Research is continually showing how much porn is harmful to consumers, personal relationships, and society. Sexual exploitation, no matter how it’s produced or packaged—by studio, by a solo performer in their own home, by in-person sex selling—is unhealthy for both performers and consumers. This is why we fight to stop the demand for sexual exploitation, and fight for real, healthy relationships.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

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