How Your Personal Porn Habits are being Shared with the Entire Internet

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In 2013, Internet porn generated more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. In 2014, users watched 78.9 billion videos on Pornhub, Internet’s largest portal of porn. In 2015, 25% of online search engine requests were related to sex — an estimated 68 million requests a day.

Bottom line: porn is the norm today.

BUT apart from being a public health crisis, according to American state of Utah, which recently endorsed “education, prevention, research and policy change at the community and societal level” to combat the “pornography epidemic” that is harming its people by creating a sexually toxic environment, porn could be the next big privacy scandal.

Yet, if you think your secret porn-viewing is secure and protected, you are grossly mistaken. Your personal porn habits are perennially on the verge of being leaked to the public; even casual hackers are capable of sharing your porn-viewing history with the entire Internet.

San Francisco-based software engineer Brett Thomas writes:

“If you are watching/viewing porn online, even in Incognito mode, you should expect that at some point your porn viewing history will be publicly released and attached to your name.”

So, basically if ‘they’ know how many men, women, and children are glued to the Internet; most searched terms on porn websites; and demographic distribution of porn lovers, they already know you, your IP address, and, most likely, they can easily access your computer.

Here’s How…

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There are plenty of ways your private and potentially embarrassing personal data could be exposed to your neighbors.

Browser Footprints & User Tracking

Your browser broadcasts all sorts of information that can be used to identify you as you click around the web; in other words, you leave footprints all over the web pages you visit. Such browser footprints help websites to send your data to third-party corporations — even if you’re browsing in private mode — including Google, AddThis, Pornvertising and DoublePimp; social media “share” buttons; and third-party ad networks built in.

If you think proxies, VPNs, and similar software cover your privacy online, well, all websites are capable of stealing your data by websites you visit, using any browser and identifying you based on that data. Almost all websites run a JavaScript or Flash script to know the type of the computer screen you own, fonts on the system, Cookies and so on. So, while a Proxy or a VPN can change your location, it does not add or remove extensions from your browser, or change its settings.

Basically, erasing your Internet history does not wipe out the record of those porn videos you watched the other day — remember, virtually every website has some or the other tracking elements installed, thus, your late night porn binges or work-hour porn visits are being recorded continuously.

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Data Breaches Via Hacking

A user, first party or third-party corporations with malicious intent, can infer a list of porn you’ve viewed if they manage to obtain identifiable access logs for just one of the websites that know your name. From there they can view logs for just one of the porn websites you’ve visited. To create havoc, all that’s needed, believes Thomas, are two nominal data breaches and an enterprising teenager to post a website that allows you to search anybody by email or Facebook username, and view their porn browsing history.

Porn URLs

It is very easy to see exactly who is watching what on the Internet by just looking at the Uniform Resource Locators, or URLs. While Pornhub and Redtube mask the nature of the videos being viewed with numerical strings, such as www.pornsite.com/watch_viewkey=19212, most of the top porn sites (like XVideos, XHamster, and XXNX) reveal the exact nature of the videos being viewed right in the URL, such as http://www.pornsite.com/view/embarrassing-form-of-…. Privacy researcher Tim Libert told VICE:

“The URL is one of the basic pieces of information in all HTTP requests, so whoever sneaks in their code [e.g., Google, Tumblr] on the page gets that by default. Purely numerical strings [e.g., ‘?id=123’] may not tell you what somebody’s particular sexual preferences are, but you know they are looking at a porn site. In contrast, really descriptive URLs can tell you exactly what somebody is into, so if it says something naughty, well, that’s not a secret anymore.

“Incognito mode does virtually zero to stop this tracking, and at best your address bar won’t auto-complete to something embarrassing, but advertisers and data brokers still get the information. I have no idea what, if anything, they do with it—but it’s all sitting in a database somewhere.”

Zero Traceability a Myth

Porn websites may not necessarily be saving your data permanently, or tracking you for any malicious purposes; they may be doing it to increase the functionality and shareability of their web pages. By looking at what porn you like to watch, data brokers and web trackers may be using your data to improve the ads they serve on porn sites.

Whatever the case may be, you can’t be sure what exactly those third parties are doing with your data. And since it is incredibly hard to ensure zero traceability, if someone wants to take porn revenge, he/she can hack a porn website, and leak your credit-card and personal data for all to see. Remember the Ashley Madison hacking? Thomas told VICE:

 “Unfortunately anonymity is just fundamentally incompatible with Javascript and the open web. I’m perhaps fortunate that, were everybody’s porn preferences made public, mine would be on the less embarrassing side.”


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14 COMMENTS

      • Tor does work…even without VPN but that just adds a secondary tunnel of encryption and another change of location to code so is advised if you want extra strength – if thats good enough to buy drugs n guns from…its good enough to watch 18+ porn on..sheesh!

        its all scaremongering…of the billions on earth looking at porn…whos going to pick YOU out and show it too the world..LOL..youve more chance of winning the lottery twice

        • well, it looks as if I have won the lottery. I found out soon enough that not too much damage was done, but saying it couldn’t happen to you is foolish.

    • Yes, you are fucked DK, however, for those who are not tech savvy, what you can do is basically use religious metaphors, like saying ‘I repented’, or maybe put it in historical context like, “If Genghis Khan were alive, he would be way worse than me…”, etc, etc. At the end of the day, despite corporate humanity, and the NWO, the human race is still just one big animalistic tribe, populating the Earth and multiplying, and constantly bringing new vices into the mix of activity, and some of us just make pictures and videos of attractive members of the opposite sex just so appealing, and inflict the others with crazy addictions, its no surprise things are the way they are, who can blame us? You know you felt guilty as soon as you clicked this link.

  1. How about running your browser in Docker using the kernel abstraction layer?
    That way you can always have a new identity when launching your browser (having in mind that you do not use the persistent storage)
    Even when some online testing tools say that your browser is unique, at least you have a way to be unique each time you open a new and clean browser instance using the Docker.

    • Or setup a copy of Windows running on Virtualbox and use only that Windows VM for porn and porn only. Of course, still use a VPN, Tor, and browser add-ons like no script. Also configure your browser to delete your history, cookies, and cache after you exit.

  2. I can understand why porn-watchers would find this distressing, and I do agree that it is wrong for your online habits to be traced. However, I also think porn is stupid, and that you should know better than to be a product of operant and classical conditioning. Each to their own! ;D

  3. horrible clickbaity article that gets so much wrong. example:

    “most of the top porn sites (like XVideos, XHamster, and XXNX) reveal the exact nature of the videos being viewed right in the URL”

    tell us about https/ssl because you obviously know a lot about how it functions.

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