Internet Porn

Pornography, the depiction of erotic behavior intended to cause sexual excitement, has taken on a wide variety of forms throughout the decades, from paintings and photographs to magazines and video. Sexually explicit websites, bulletin boards, newsgroups, and chat rooms are becoming increasingly popular. The internet has permanently changed the way people produce and view porn. The effects of internet porn are widespread and can be both positive and negative.

Types of Internet Porn

Internet pornography has become a major industry with growing demand every year. There are an estimated 4.2 million pornographic websites active today and over 100 billion pornographic videos viewed every year.1 The internet’s vast amount of pornographic content ensures that there is something for everyone. There are many different ways to view internet porn, but the most common are pay sites, tube sites, and cam girl sites.

Pay Sites

Pornography pay sites operate on a subscription-based model in which members pay to gain access to photos as well as streaming video content. Some pay sites require a monthly or yearly fee in order to view unlimited content, while other sites are pay-per-view and charge customers for each video or photo they access.2 Although pay sites were once dominant in the early 2000s, only about three to five percent of porn viewers use pay sites today.1 The massive decline in popularity of paying for pornography can be attributed to the rise of tube sites.

Tube Sites


Tube sites offer unlimited free pornographic content to all viewers and profit from ad revenue.3 The majority of internet porn viewers use tube sites exclusively due to their lack of cost. Pornhub is the largest tube site on the internet today, with over 28.5 billion visits and 4 million videos uploaded every year.4 Tube sites acquire pornographic content through three main sources3:

  • Amateur porn: Amateur porn is produced by non-professionals and distributed via tube sites.5Typically,amateurporn is recorded using a phone, webcam, or camcorder. The most common genres of amateur porn are real-life couples having sex on camera and solo scenes involving strip teases or masturbation.5 There is a noticeable difference in quality between amateur and professional porn; however, many users prefer amateur porn because of its realistic nature. Amateur porn performers are real people with average bodies that often have not been surgically enhanced.5 Although some people attempt to sell their amateur porn to tube sites, many opt to upload their content for free.
  • Teasers: Teasers are free samples offered by pay sites in order to entice users into paying for the full product.3 Few customers would pay for porn without seeing any of the content in advance, thus, pay sites offer short clips and thumbnail pictures for free as advertisement. Tube sites took advantage of these teasers by compiling them all together in compilation videos and thumbnail galleries.6
  • Pirated content: The most prevalent form of porn available on tube sites is pirated content. If one customer pays for a pornographic video, they can then digitally upload that content to a tube site for free, making it available to unlimited amounts of people at no cost.7 Although all forms of piracy are illegal, it is especially difficult to prevent and punish porn piracy due to the vast quantity of porn on the internet today. Pirated content is the most demanded form of porn on tube sites because it is full-length, professional quality pornographic content as opposed to amateur porn or brief teasers. Pirated porn comprises the majority of porn on tube sites today.

Cam Sites

One growing form of internet pornography is live webcam performances or “camming” shows. Camming involves live-streaming an erotic performance for an audience in real time.8 The most common webcam performers are young women, typically referred to as “cam girls.” Webcam performers use cam sites such as LiveJasmin, MyFreeCams, and Chaturbate as platforms to connect them with an audience.8 Typical camming sessions involve a chat room wherein viewers can communicate with the performer and even pay for certain privileges. Users pay extra money to make requests of the performer, such as removing more clothing or engaging in certain sexual acts; however, the highest fees are those required to have a private one-on-one session with the performer.8 Unlike all other forms of porn, camming allows viewers to interact with porn performers instantly, providing a more personal and intimate experience.8

Webcam performers enjoy the benefits of working from home as well as a greater connection with their audience. Additionally, webcam performers typically earn decent wages with good working conditions.8 Although camming involves live performances, tube sites still pirate this content by recording webcam sessions and uploading them for free. Most users enjoy the interactive feature of camming the most, thus, the demand for pirated webcam sessions is lower than it is for pre-recorded pornography.8


Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet Porn

The internet pornography industry is massive and only continuing to grow; thus, it is important to examine the advantages and disadvantages of internet porn. Like all forms of pornography, viewing internet porn can be a natural and healthy behvaior, so long as it does not become an addiction that negatively impacts a person’s life.


One of the most important advantages of internet porn is anonymity.2 Internet porn virtually guarantees the anonymity of its users. Consumers can purchase porn from the comfort of their own homes, preventing any potential embarrassment from buying pornographic material in public retail stores. Some people may worry about the risk of running into somebody they know (friend, family member, employer, etc.) and being negatively judged. The anonymity of the internet eliminates much of the stigma surrounding pornography. Additionally, the internet has made it easier than ever to access countless different types of porn. The increase in quantity of porn available has also led to an increase in less common niche genres that were previously hard to find or heavily stigmatized.2

Internet porn can also enrich people’s sex lives by giving people the opportunity to add novelty to their sex lives, learn about their bodies, and explore a variety of techniques and sexual interests. For example, couples can watch pornographic videos together and experiment to add novelty to their sex lives. Watching porn together can be an exciting addition to a couple’s foreplay routine or it can serve as inspiration for acts to try in the future.2

Porn can also be used as a tool for learning. Viewers can discover new techniques, positions, and even come up with ideas for exciting role play scenarios. It is also important to keep in mind that the porn industry often enhances and alters the original appearance and abilities of its performers.3 Viewers who compare such imagery and activity with reality may find themselves disappointed or confused when real life sexual interactions do not exactly resemble those shown in pornography. Porn can be educational; however, it is not a suitable substitute for comprehensive sex education.


One of the largest disadvantages of watching internet pornography is that it is typically less high-quality compared to other forms of porn.3 The majority of porn viewed online today is available on tube sites, which means it is most likely either a short teaser, amateur, or pirated from a pay site. Furthermore, porn production companies have dramatically decreased their production budgets in order to save money, leading to less extravagant sets and effects.1

Another major disadvantage of internet pornography is that the wide availability of free online pornographic content can make it easier for an individual to develop an addiction to porn. Although the vast majority of people never develop an addiction to porn, it is important to recognize some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship with porn. Some signs of internet porn addiction include the following9:

  • An inability to stop watching porn despite previous attempts
  • Losing track of time due to watching porn
  • Withdrawing from socialization with friends and family
  • Requiring more explicit porn to gain the same amount of sexual satisfaction
  • Craving porn and becoming angry when porn is not easily accessible
  • Continuing to view porn even when other aspects of a person’s life, such as one’s job or relationship or friendships, are being negatively impacted9

Watching internet porn rarely becomes problematic; however, fortunately, there are many methods of treating porn addiction. The most popular and successful method involves seeking therapy from a mental health professional who is experienced in treating porn addiction.9 In most cases, self-regulation and moderation are keys to maintaining a healthy relationship with porn. 


The Effect of the Internet on Pornography Industry

The internet has changed the pornography industry dramatically. The rise of tube sites and amateur content is responsible for much of this change. Professional porn producers and performers must now compete with the mass availability of free porn offered by tube sites.2 As a result of this increased competition, the earnings for porn actors and production workers have dropped dramatically. Wages for female actors have declined from an average of $800 to $600 per average sex scene, while their male counterparts earn even less.10 Due to decreased profits, there has also been a huge decrease in the number of porn production studios. In the last ten years, the number of professional porn studios has dropped from over 200 to around 20 today.2 Additionally, there has been an increase in demand for hardcore content or kinky porn, such as anal sex, BDSM, double and triple penetration, and various fetishes.1 Porn performers have been forced to increase the intensity and violence of their content without earning more in return.

There are also many positive impacts that have resulted from internet pornography. Camming is an entirely new genre of porn that was made possible by the internet’s live-streaming capabilities. Camming allows for instant interaction between a performer and their audience for the first time ever. Webcam performers are able to market themselves directly to viewers without the once vital need for studios, agents, contracts, and/or corporations. Cam girls often report greater workplace satisfaction due to their independence and ability to work from home on their own schedule. They also have autonomy over what acts they choose to perform and even how they interact with their viewers.8 Another positive effect of the internet on pornography is decreased stigmatization of the porn industry. Porn is no longer the taboo, off-limits topic that it was in previous years. Social media has also allowed porn stars to connect with their audience directly, develop their personal brands, and become more relatable mainstream figures in today’s society.11

It is difficult to determine whether the internet has positively or negatively impacted the porn industry overall; however, it is undeniable that the effects of the internet on porn are widespread and likely permanent.


The Future of Internet Porn

The porn industry has had to adapt to the advent of the internet in order to maintain its popularity and relevance. Virtual reality (VR) is the most recent and most groundbreaking advance of internet pornography. VR is an all-encompassing term used to define a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment.12 A VR user can put on a headset and be instantly immersed in a new digital environment. Virtual reality is already being used as a method of viewing porn and it is estimated that by 2025, pornography will be the third largest use of VR behind video gaming and sports viewing.13 Virtual reality can provide a more realistic and intimate pornographic experience, allowing viewers to feel like they are a part of the scenes they are viewing, giving many viewers a sense of freedom and power.

Despite the technological sophistication of VR pornography, many virtual reality users report feeling a separation from their VR environment. This separation often leads to an emotional and ethical distance from their real-life actions and their VR persona. Virtual participation in pornographic content can diminish one’s sense of individual responsibility or accountability in otherwise inappropriate situations (i.e. when pornographic material may involve exploitation of minors or scenes of sexually explicit violence). Virtual reality may create a divide between the real and the imaginary, which may prevent users from taking responsibility for their own actions in reality.13


Concluding Remarks

The internet has permanently changed the way people view and produce pornography. Internet porn provides accessibility, affordability, and anonymity like never before, making it easier than ever for people to view porn. Consumers benefit from the increased availability of porn; however, the massive quantity and ease of access of pornography can foster addiction in a minority of viewers. The internet has brought many challenges to the pornography industry. Production companies struggle to combat tube sites’ unlimited free selection of porn, causing many professional porn studios to go out of business. Despite the decline of professional studios, the internet has created new forms of pornography such as camming and virtual reality. Watching porn is a natural and healthy activity that can have many benefits; however, as with any sexual activity, it is important that porn does not interfere with an individual’s relationships, responsibilities, and hobbies.



  1.  Gradus, R., Bauer, J., and Jones, R. (2017). Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On. Herzog Company.
  2. The Economist Group Limited (2015). Pornography: Naked Capitalism. The Economist.
  3. Pierrat, J., Berdugo, M., Leca, E., Khalfon S., and Ovidie (2017). Pornocracy: The New Sex Multinationals. Magneto Presse and Fatalitas Productions.
  4. Pornhub Insights (2018). 2017 Year in Review. Pornhub.
  5. Tibbals, Chauntelle (2015). Would You Sell Your Private Sex Tape to a Porn Company? Men’s Health Magazine.
  6. Mims, Christopher (2010). How the Internet Porn Business Works. MIT Technology Review.
  7. Auerbach, David (2014). Vampire Porn. Slate Magazine.
  8. Bertrand, Natasha (2014). How Webcam Models Make Money. Business Insider.
  9. Miller, Leah (2018). What Is Porn Addiction? ProjectKnow.
  10. Morris, Chris (2016). Porn’s Dirtiest Secret: What Everyone Gets Paid. CNBC.
  11. Murray, Billy (2017). How Porn Stars Use Social Media to Elevate Their Brands. Resource Magazine.
  12. Virtual Reality Society (2017). What Is Virtual Reality? VRS.
  13. Krueger, Alyson (2017). Virtual Reality Gets Naughty. The New York Times.

Last Updated: 11 March 2018.