Mindgeek-owned porn site XTube has unceremoniously announced that it is soon departing its users for porn heaven. “We’re proud of the vibrant community we’ve built since 2008 and we’re grateful to all of you who have shared your content on the platform,” XTube said in a notice. “Unfortunately, it’s time for us to move on to greener pastures and greater things.”
The site’s FAQ page states that content will be removed on September 5th. Mindgeek already barred users from downloading content across the network last December, following a widely-circulated New York Times report on non-consensual porn and child sex abuse material on Pornhub, and credit card companies’ subsequent decision to bail.
Anti-tube campaigners are celebrating a win, but it’s possible that XTube just doesn’t make money. A Similarweb traffic overview shows that interest has been dropping and ranks it at 158 for adult sites, far below other Mindgeek properties like Pornhub (3rd), YouPorn (18th), and RedTube (27th).
Mindgeek made it sound like the latter is the case, in a statement shared with Gizmodo. “Like any tech company, we are constantly evaluating our content offerings and products to best serve our users,” Mindgeek said. “XTube has always had a dedicated but small community, and we believe that its users and creators will be better served on one of our existing platforms, where they will be able to take advantage of wider reach and increased visibility.”
Lalita Lolli, a fetish performer who mainly uploads videos to Pornhub, guessed that Mindgeek’s decision to remove all uploads by unverified users would have impacted its sites’ bottom lines. After the New York Times exposé, Pornhub exterminated millions of videos—the majority of its content, Vice pointed out at the time. Currently, XTube shows only around 35,000 videos compared to about 115,000 in November 2020.
“That would have taken out a huge chunk of their content,” they said. “Overall, the meat of multiple sites is unverified accounts.” Most performers were happy with that decision, according to Lalita. “I wish people did know that porn performers do not like unverified content, not just because of privacy, but because of the abuse and harm of revenge porn and child porn,” they said. It also helped curb rampant piracy; they’ve had to file countless DMCA takedown requests to other sites that have hosted their stolen videos, only to find them re-uploaded and mirrored or turned black-and-white to avoid detection.
Canada-based performer Bootywankenobi tweeted that XTube historically accommodated content thieves. “Good fucking riddance,” adding that XTube refused to remove his private content ripped and uploaded by a user.
Porn performers such as Siri and journalists have generally protested that rampant piracy on the Mindgeek network has killed the mainstream porn industry. “A lot of people are making a lot less money and are working much, much longer hours to make that money,” journalist Jon Ronson told Vox in 2017. “Whereas the people in charge of PornHub are making so much money they don’t know what to do with it.”
The opposite goes for others who rely on Pornhub as their main source of income; amidst credit card companies’ tube prohibition, Pornhub creators pointed out that, by now, Pornhub’s the best place to get name recognition.
But XTube was not. If the loss of unverified uploads caused Xtube to shut down, other smaller Mindgeek sites might be looking to greener pastures. At the time of this writing, Pornhub seems to be fine.