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 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.

History

A group of anonymous individuals founded xHamster in 2007. xHamster was envisioned as a social network; a spokesperson said the site's content organisation 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 million members. In May 2016, xHamster launched The Sex Factor, a reality series competition where contestants compete to become a porn star.

xHamster has restricted access to its site and removed content in response to political issues concerning the LGBT community and rape culture. The site blocked users with IP addresses based in North Carolina throughout April 2016, after the state enacted a law that stopped its counties and cities from passing laws to protect LGBT people. In response to the verdict of the People v. Turner sexual assault case, xHamster instituted a "Brock Turner rule", which banned videos involving rape, including those involving sex with an unconscious partner or hypnosis. In the aftermath of the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak, xHamster offered Debbie Wasserman Schultz a US$50,000 role in a pornographic film with a Bernie Sanders lookalike.

In September 2016, Alex Hawkins speaking for xHamster confirmed that they had purchased a sex tape alleged to portray American actress Alexis Arquette, which was put up for sale by an ex-lover shortly after her death. xHamster destroyed all copies of it, announcing that "Ms. Arquette was an icon and activist in the trans community and we couldn't see someone smear her memory the way the selling party was trying to do."

Website

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 thirty percent 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 additionally 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 additionally 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, philtre private messages, and block certain requests. Users can additionally verify their identity by submitting a photo of themselves with their username, which confers a stamp upon their profile.

Malvertising

In April 2013, Conrad Longmore, a cyber security researcher, found that xHamster and PornHub were attacked with malvertisements. In September 2015, xHamster was hit with another malvertising attack along with YouPorn and PornHub. TrafficHaus reported that it might be the result of a breach.

Censorship

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 favour of a block on xHamster and additional pornographic websites in April 2014; the ruling was passed on a year later to Roskomnadzor, the state media overseer.