xHamster is a pornographic media and social networking site headquartered in Limassol, Cyprus. xHamster serves user-submitted pornographic videos, webcam models, pornographic photographs, and erotic literature, and incorporates social networking features. xHamster was founded anonymously in 2007. Surpassing 10 million members in 2015, it became the third most popular pornography website on the Internet. In 2015, the site launched The Sex Factor, a reality series where men and women compete to become porn stars. The site has been targeted as part of malvertising campaigns, and various governments have blocked xHamster as part of larger initiatives against Internet pornography.
A group of anonymous individuals founded xHamster in 2007. xHamster was envisioned as a social network; a spokesperson said the site's content organization scheme was intended to allow "people who wanted to chat, exchange erotic pics and share amateur videos [...] to find mutual friends online and maybe discover partners interested in intimate relationships." In November 2015, the site stated it had surpassed 10,000,000 members.
The site blocked users with IP addresses based in North Carolina during April 2016, due to a recent law in the state stopping its counties and cities from passing laws to protect LGBT people. In May 2016, xHamster launched The Sex Factor, a reality series competition where contestants compete to become a porn star. In June 2016, in response to the verdict of People v. Turner, xHamster instituted a "Brock Turner rule", which banned videos involving rape, including those involving sex with an unconscious partner or hypnosis. Users searching for such content were given a message asking them to "[consult] with a professional psychologist", and provided with a hyperlink to the online therapy service 7cups.com.
xHamster provides various pornographic videos, photos, and erotic stories grouped under categories catering to specific fetishes or sexual preferences. Users uploading content select from a series of set categories. The most popular category, "amateur", tags 30% of all videos posted. In addition to these prerecorded videos, users can view live streams of paid models; the model can interact with several users by means of an online chat service. Models can also activate a "Tip" button, which allows users to provide the models additional money. xHamster accepts Bitcoins as a payment method, which (unlike credit cards) offers anonymity.
xHamster also contains several social networking features. Users have detailed profiles incorporating their profile picture and gender, as well as works added to the site. Content possesses a commenting and rating system, and users can interact by adding others as a "friend" or subscribing to another's content. Privacy settings allow users to make various parts of the account visible only to select individuals, filter private messages, and block certain requests. Users can also verify their identity by submitting a photo of themselves with their username, which confers a stamp upon their profile.
xHamster has been targeted by malvertising campaigns, which use the site's advertising service to infect computers with malware. Conrad Longmore, a computer security researcher, found that five percent of advertisements displayed by the sites were found to contain programs which install harmful files on users' machines without their permission. In September 2015, xHamster served some advertisements which installed an exploit kit on the user's computer; other ads served browlock, a ransomware program.
xHamster has been blocked by various governments. In August 2015, the government of India ordered internet service providers to block several sites, including xHamster, under the IT Act. In Russia, a local court in the Republic of Tatarstan ruled in favor of a block on xHamster and other pornographic websites; the ruling was passed on to Roskomnadzor, the state media overseer.