xHamster is a Cypriot pornographic media and social networking site headquartered in Limassol. xHamster serves user-submitted pornographic videos, webcam models, pornographic photographs, and erotic literature, and incorporates social networking features. xHamster was founded in 2007. With more than 10 million members, it is the fourth most popular pornography website on the Internet after XVideos, XNXX and Pornhub. As of July 2020, xHamster was the 20th most trafficked website in the world.
The site produced The Sex Factor, a reality TV series in which men and women compete to become porn stars. The site has been targeted as part of malvertising campaigns, and some governments have blocked xHamster as part of larger initiatives against Internet pornography.
In early 2007, a group of anonymous individuals decided to create a new adult video service, and xHamster was launched on 2 April 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.” Surpassing 10 million members in 2015, xHamster became the third most popular pornography Internet website, after XVideos and Pornhub. 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 during 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 August 2016, Alex Hawkins stated that xHamster would be sponsoring a trip for Brendan Dassey to Wrestlemania. He stated “We are pleased that we can make this young man’s dream of going to Wrestlemania come true… We have been in talks with the family and they are more than thrilled that Brendan will get this opportunity after so many years of heartache and injustice.” The idea was started by a change.org petition.
During the total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017 xHamster reported significant decrease in site usage across the United States: cities in range of totality such as Nashville, Tennessee, had a viewership drop 43%. Charleston, South Carolina, and Portland, Oregon, saw drops of 36% and 35% respectively, jumping back up to 85% increase in Charleston and 63% in Portland after the eclipse. Cities outside the path of totality experienced a less drastic change, with cities such as New York and Los Angeles, which experiencing 15% less viewership.
In August 2017 xHamster sent a letter to the creators of the television series Sense8, Lilly and Lana Wachowski, requesting to host the third season of Sense8. Sense8 was originally broadcast by Netflix which chose not to renew the season. Lana Wachowski stated that content for a third season was being created hoping that someone would pick the series up. In the letter to the Wachowskis, Alex Hawkins stated, “xHamster has a long history of fighting for the rights of sexual speech, and non-normative sexuality. In addition to allowing billions of users to connect with individual articulations of gender and sexuality, we continue to use our audience to speak up against repressive anti-LGBTQ laws in the US and abroad, and for sex-ed in public schools Planned Parenthood and the rights of sex workers.”
Stormy Daniels was the most searched porn star on xHamster in the first quarter of 2018. Traffic on xHamster.com increased by 5% across the US and by 7% in Washington D.C. during her 60-minute interview with Anderson Cooper leading vice president Hawkins to the conclusion that the company had, “rarely seen anything like this” before.
In May 2018, “La Manada” (wolfpack) was one of the most searched for words on xHamster. The fact that the term is linked to the Spanish sexual abuse case, La Manada, led xHamster to confirm that a video showing the alleged crimes of five accused men was never published on its website.
In August 2018, xHamster launched a $25,000 xHamster for Women Fund to expand the content in the “Porn for Women” category of the site. According to xHamster Vice President Alex Hawkins, the goal of the fund is to increase the availability of porn that women viewers want to watch as well as to address the discrepancy between the site’s visitors, 25% of whom identify as women, and the 95% of site content aimed at a male audience. Submissions were judged by “a rotating team of women-identified judges, made up of fans, porn stars, journalists and xHamster employees.” Starting 1 September, amateur and professional women-identifying filmmakers could apply for grants in the range of $500 to $10,000. The films will be made available for free and without interest claims from xHamster. While other major porn sites have sought in recent years to appeal to women viewers, xHamster appears to be the first major porn site to offer monetary incentive for this.
In September 2018, the website released an interactive online guide map, titled “Legendary Porn Theaters of NYC,” marking the most famous porn locations in 1970s New York City. Many of the sites were shut down by the city in the 1980s and included theaters that screened pornos, massage parlors, and adult bookstores.
One year after the 2017 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, xHamster released data showing that traffic to the site from Puerto Rico was down by one-fifth compared to pre-hurricane levels. Vice President Alex Hawkins claimed the lag in viewership indicated that the country, in contrast to some claims made by officials, had not yet returned to pre-hurricane standards of normalcy, including both reliable access to electricity and privacy.
Connected with right-wing Youtubers, Reddit groups, memes on 4Chan, and pseudoscientific health benefits of abstaining from porn and masturbation, #NoNutNovember (or #NNN) is a viral abstinence “campaign” or monthlong “challenge” begun in 2017. While xHamster did report a slight dip in user traffic from late October to early November 2017, they also reported a slight increase in site traffic in November 2019; Alex Hawkins attributed the increase to heightened public awareness of masturbation throughout the month of November. In 2018 xHamster launched a counter No Nut November campaign called “Nut November,” which they promoted with the hashtag #yesfap. On 6 November the site posted to its Twitter account that they began to receive hateful messages and well-designed death threats in response to its counter campaign, including an image reading “Pornographers must die.”
After Danish photographer, Andreas Hvid, published a controversial photograph of himself and an unnamed woman lying naked on the Great Pyramid of Giza in late 2018, xHamster tweeted in support of Hvid, encouraging him to continue his pornographic pursuits with the help of the site.
In a “photobomb” stunt at the 2019 Golden Globes, Kelleth Cuthbert, a Wilhelmina model and brand ambassador for Fiji Water, went viral on Twitter by repeatedly appearing behind actors on the red carpet. Cuthbert was seen carrying a tray of Fiji water bottles behind actors such as Jim Carrey and Jamie Lee Curtis. On Twitter, xHamster offered the Fiji brand ambassador, Cuthbert, a contract proposal of $100,000 to “keep our performers fully hydrated.”
In support of US civil servants during the 2019 government shutdown, the site offered all furloughed government employees access to all premium pornographic content.
As part of an April Fool’s Day joke in 2019, xHamster rolled out a plan to open a chain of 18+ coffee shops called “xHamster with Cream,” offering visitors “adult-themed custom drinks and free, unfiltered WiFi.” The prank was spurred partially in response to a 2018 WiFi ban on adult content in all Starbucks stores.
In May 2019, xHamster announced that it would temporarily block all “MILF” (acronym for the moniker, “Mom I’d Like to Fuck”) videos on Mother’s Day. When users attempted to view a MILF video, a pop-up would appear on the screen saying, “Go call your mom, ok? MILFs can wait.”
xHamster offered free premium services to all Thomas Cook airline passengers and former employees after the company’s collapse in September 2019.