How Adult Entertainment Sites Scale for Massive Demand
We take a look under the hood at how these streaming services tackle video quality, security controls, and more.
Pornography websites aren’t just places for people to watch sexual content. They’re also major operations that work similarly to streaming services or social media enterprises like YouTube.
Hosting these websites involves keeping data secure, allowing for usernames, processing credit card information, dealing with censorship laws worldwide, and, sometimes, moderating comments. Some adult streaming sites also feature live content, and many more have sponsors or run ads.
So, how do they work?
Processing credit card information
According to ComputerWorld, websites require the following things to process credit card payments:
- A business bank account.
- A virtual terminal or payment gateway approves or denies payments depending on a person’s balance.
- Payment processor: This acts as a messenger between the website and the customer’s issuing credit card company or bank. The processor also ensures the authenticity of information on the user’s end. It declines if fraud is suspected or if there’s not enough in the person’s balance.
- E-commerce or software system that allows for the sale of products and/or services. These can be custom-made for any type of website.
Adult entertainment sites face specific challenges when getting paid, such as policy changes from financial services companies, or pressure to host less sexually explicit content at the detriment of NSFW content creators.
Username and password creation controls
You’re probably familiar with password creation protocols demanding a “strong” password with certain requirements. Sites like Pornhub have relatively easy requirements—only six characters or more.
These experiences can vary. Sites with requirements such as longer character lengths, numbers, capital letters, etc., tend to enforce these rules to prevent fraud or hacking. According to Auth0, one of the ways username and password creation can work is:
- Users create their username, which is then compared to other usernames in a site’s database to ensure it’s not taken.
- Once the user creates a unique login, they must create a password that adheres to the site’s rules.
- Once these are created, a process called “hashing” ties a username to a password using an algorithm that takes plain text and anonymizes it.
- Password resetting. These are links sites can use to help you reset your password or provide hints so you can log into them if you forget your original password.
Upload and streaming optimization
We can learn a lot about how pornography sites deal with so many uploads and streams by looking at how YouTube handles its operations.
Some adult entertainment websites show professionally shot videos, animation, and amateur porn. All of these have the potential to be shot in different formats, lengths, and sizes. Videos are generally processed to decrease in size and quickly load online. By the time a user is watching a video, the video uploaded is much smaller than the original file size.
But what about actually watching a video?
YouTube can also teach us something about this. They have a concept called adaptive bitrate, which allows the size of the video clips you’re watching to change quickly. This can be especially helpful if your internet speed changes, you use a shared internet connection, or you download something while watching a video.
Sites that don’t have this type of technology can have more buffering if their videos are uploaded with a higher quality or resolution.
Navigating legal issues
All websites nowadays have a disclaimer of some sort, but this is especially important for adult streaming sites. Though imperfect, many sites also ask viewers to verify their age before viewing videos.
In countries such as the United States pornography is a protected—but often debated—form of free speech. Other parts of the world restrict or completely censor pornography.
In countries where adult content is partially or completely legal many sites allow users to flag inappropriate content. Sites allow users to flag pornography in instances such as:
- Videos shot without a person’s consent.
- Illegal activity.
- Videos that include a minor or missing person.
Image sources: ThisIsEngineering