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PornHub is being touted as a real, possible YouTube alternative

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Even the company’s community manager says it’s possible

The 2018 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo Ethan Miller/Getty Images

YouTube’s crackdown on hate speech, bullying and conspiracy-theory videos has sent some in search of alternatives, and it looks like PornHub might be their answer.

The search began when people began posting screenshots of gun videos — content that YouTube recently announced it was placing stricter restrictions on — that ended up in PornHub’s safe-for-work section. Gun videos are now part of a YouTube policy prohibiting certain kinds of content that are strictly prohibited, and will be removed from the website. According to the policy, this covers any video that:

Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales (e.g., private sales by individuals) or links to sites that sell these items. These accessories include but may not be limited to accessories that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (e.g., bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits), and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds).

Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, homemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above. This also includes instructions on how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities.

Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications.

Many gun owners, seeing this as an attack on their values and political affiliation, took to Facebook and Twitter to accuse YouTube of censorship. YouTube has been trying to figure out how to keep its site as family-friendly as possible, and show it is taking action after multiple mass shootings across the United States. YouTube has been criticized in the past when videos pertaining to guns and gun violence wound up on the platform’s trending section or were recommended, potentially to young viewers.

While YouTube is taking action against firearms content on its platform, PornHub doesn’t have similar rules. The only condition in PornHub’s prohibited use section that may pertain to gun violence is one saying users cannot “post any Content that is obscene, illegal, unlawful, defamatory, libelous, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, or encourages conduct that would be considered a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability, violate any law, or is otherwise inappropriate.”

Not only is PornHub’s lack of policy surrounding gun enthusiast content an invitation to people who feel targeted by YouTube, even if the company’s own executive team says they’re not taking a side, but PornHub also runs an ad revenue concept similar to YouTube’s. Corey Price, PornHub’s vice president, addressed those concerns in September 2017 during an Ask Me Anything-style session on tech site, The Next Web. Price said:

Our offering is actually quite similar to YouTube’s. We recently renamed our amateur program to the model program to be more encompassing of all our amazing content creators uploading their self-made content for ad revenue and promotion to cam shows and paid clip sites. The program is extremely popular right now. We have many tens of thousands currently enrolled and we also receive hundreds of signups each and every day. Our program boasts some of the highest payouts across the entire industry, paying out approximately 90% of the ad-revenue earned. Many of our models use Pornhub not only to make ad revenue but also promote their subscription websites, paid snapchats, cam shows etc. and end up building huge fan bases across all their platforms.

Price’s comparison of PornHub’s ad revenue model to YouTube’s may be tantalizing for people being kicked off the latter platform, but a big factor that holds people back is PornHub’s affiliation with, well, porn. Although some are using PornHub’s safe for work section as a way to test out the site, there’s no question that even PornHub’s safe-for-work content still borders sexually explicit material.

That may change, though, according to PornHub’s senior community manager, who goes by Katie. On Reddit, she addressed a question about PornHub developing a section of the site that wasn’t connected to PornHub’s sexually explicit content, one which could offer an alternative to YouTube creators who wanted to look elsewhere.

“We’ve joked about doing something like this in the past but now it’s becoming more and more realistic and not so crazy,” she said. “We’ll see!”

Katie added, however, there are some concerns at the company in venturing outside of pornography because of the amount of bandwidth it would require to accommodate a flood of creators on the site that aren’t creating pornographic content, and therefore may not be where advertisers want to place their ads.

“It would be very difficult to be profitable, one of the main hesitations,” she said.

For now, however, some people are starting to make the move over to PornHub — a website with an undeniably large audience. It seems unlikely that PornHub will ever become a major competitor to YouTube, but as people seek out alternative platforms for content YouTube is trying to rid itself of, PornHub is just another horse who’s entered the race.