PVV – consumer data… from PornHub?

oh le sigh…

This: “A State by State Map of America’s Filthy Porn Searches” (Gizmodo 8/27/13)

And this: “PornHub released data on what every state is masturbating to. The results are xxx-cellent.” (HappyPlace 8/28/13)

And all of this:


(pictured: image pulled from Gizmodo here, click to enlarge)


According to the internet, PornHub recently released a huge amount of data about their “users'” search habits, which a redditor then turned into an interactive map. The version above, though not interactive, shows the top porn-related searches by state (according to PornHub’s released data and as conveyed by our friend on Reddit).

You can go to either previously linked article or directly to Reddit to also find the top three search terms by state and the average amount of time “users” spent on the site. Everything is also posted here.

Ok… so why all the “le sigh”s and air quotes, Chauntelle? Well, my frustration with this PornHub press opportunity is two-fold.


One: these numbers are poorly rendered.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I can *believe* these data are real. I can believe that folks visiting PornHub entered these search terms, stayed on the site for whatever duration, etc. But without context, these numbers are completely meaningless.

For example, Florida’s most common search term was “creampie” vs Minnesota’s penchant for “college” – fine. However, without telling me 1) the frequency this term was searched – like, the actual number of times it was entered – and 2) how it measures up against each state’s respective population, it means nothing.

Further, how were these numbers cleaned and/or manipulated before they were released? How were the search terms coded and the categories collapsed? Is, for example, “milf” literally just “milf” or was “MILF” and perhaps “cougar” and/or “mature” included? These are extremely important questions.

Finally, PornHub is just one site – it does not represent all of porn consumption online. Consequently, though we may be able to get some insights re “users” search terms on PornHub, these numbers say nothing about adult content consumption in the US in general.

Let me repeat: these numbers say nothing about adult content consumption in the US in general.


Two: it’s PornHub… hence the qualifier above on “*believe*”

PornHub is, still to this day, the poster child for pirated porn – the site is rife with stolen content, all available to “users” for free. PornHub, thus, is incapable of capturing consumer data – no conventional exchange of goods occurs there. The potential for mischaracterization here is huge.

Now, PornHub is under no obligation to do anything for the good of humanity… (why would they be?) …and they’re getting lots of attention for these numbers, which I’m willing to bet was the goal. Fine. But in today’s unclear world, these data have been picked up and spread across the land as rigorous demographics. They’re not.

My concern here is that, once again, our lack of understanding re the structure and function of the adult industry coupled with the mystery and manipulability of statistics will end up further muddying the waters… not clearing them.

It’s a bummer, and it’s frustrating.


Here are a bunch of posts about internet piracy and tube sites (all on PVV, written by me) – get informed!!

There is also a wealth of information and good, qualified data re internet piracy on TakedownPiracy.com – an excellent rigorous resource.


UPDATED (9/2/13)

aaand here are even more write-ups about porn trends across the US – thanks world for conflating one company’s potentially problematic numbers with rigorous demography!!

“This Is How Much Time America Spends On Porn” on HuffPo Weird (of course it’s “weird”) –> here (8/30/13)

“The 7 Most Baffling Porn Trends Across the United States” – surprisingly judgey from Cracked.com –> here (9/1/13)


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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production