Before we understand what internet pornography means, it is necessary to have a look at what pornography means. The word Pornography has originated from the Greeks who described the term as ‘writing about prostitutes’. Pornography can be defined as: ‘Sexually overt depiction of people through different means such as words or icons. The basic aim to produce this kind of stuff is to extract momentous sexual arousal on behalf of the customer who purchases such stuff’
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By internet pornography we mean the porn hat is distributed through internet using further various sources such as websites, peer to peer file sharing, or Usenet newsgroups. The trend of internet pornography has existed since 1980; however it was made popular by the World Wide Web in the year 1991. Since then it has revolutionized the world of internet porn. Pornography can also be accessed through DVD’s and other video tapes however it is much easier to access through the internet since this can be done in a much private and confidential manner. People who are restricted due to lawful or societal reasons find it much easier to watch porn through internet (Mc Bain, p. 112).
History of Internet Pornography and Methods of Distribution
The trend of internet pornography was very much limited in the early 90’s. Previously internet was not accessed by the normal public that often, its usage was very much limited to business and job-related people. Internet gained popularity and so did the pornography linked with it. In the past, people used to scan photos from adult and porn magazines and uploaded them to the Usenet Newsgroups. This method was adopted by a number of people since it was very cheap and did not require extra fees except for the money people paid to access the internet. Their identity remained a secret and copyright restrictions could also be easily ignored. (Lehman, 272). The various methods of distribution of internet pornography have been mentioned below:
- Free vs. commercial
- Link lists
- Peer to peer
Free vs. Commercial
Internet pornography can be accessed free as well as commercially. The bandwidth used by porn sites is relatively higher than the normal sites. The money earned by normal sites is through advertisement is not sufficient enough to cover the cost of the bandwidth that they use. The normal or free websites usually post links to the porn sites in the form of thumbnail images as well as in the form of galleries that are hosted for free. The free websites provide thumbnails and smaller versions of the images and when a customer orders for a subscription to the commercial site, this takes place by clicking on the thumbnail images present on the free sites. This way the owner of eth free site plays a major role in promoting the commercial site and hence he gets paid for it.
The TGP provides a list of thumbnail images that are directly linked with the photo gallery. This way the surfer gets a preview of what he might want to view later. Often these TGP’s are misguiding since they lead the surfer to the sites that he or she is least concerned in visiting.
The main difference between TGP and Link lists is that they provide links in eth written form rather than in the form of thumbnails. These links are access to the free sites. It is often debated whether thumbnails are more useful or written text. It is concluded that thumbnails are more efficient and make the research easier.
Peer to Peer
Peer to peer is another efficient method of sharing files with various networks and they are a reliable source to provide access to porn sites. This method gives rise to the unauthorized use of copyright files, music, videos, etc. A number of commercial sites make use of this method and sample their material through the peer-to-peer process.
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Formats of Internet Pornography
The various formats of internet pornography as listed below:
- Image files
- Video files and streaming videos
- Other formats
Image files that are most commonly of the JPEG format are the most common and easiest method to promote porn. This format enables one to upload images by scanning them on the computer by taking photographs from pictures, magazines, video frames, etc.
Video Files and Streaming Video
As the name indicates, this format is used in eth distribution of porn videos. It uses formats such as MPEG, WMV and Quick Time. Currently, the easiest method to distribute pornographic movies is in the form of VCD and DVD. Nowadays commercial sites are also using WMV HD format to support high-definition videos.
The most recent research shows that YouTube is the most efficient method in distributing pornographic movies. The technology of Flash Player has been used to view the files uploaded by the users.
Webcam is the most recent and the most efficient source that has been contributing a lot to the distribution of pornographic movies and pictures. This method has gained popularity since the advent of the internet. It is a completely different format as compared to the ones discussed earlier. The content of a live webcam can be easily divided into two categories; shows that can be viewed by groups who are most important members of an adult paysite. Another category is where this activity takes place on 1 to 1 basis; this is usually more common as the customer can view whatever he desires depending on the money he offers to pay.
Text and files related to audio come in the category of other formats. This format is not very popular as compared to other formats that are used in the distribution of pornographic material. Text porn includes erotic stories, various pages on the web and messages that are put on board or newsgroups. Audio porn is distributed through MP3 and FLV formats. The content of audio porn can include recordings of people who are having sex or reading porn and erotic stories. Porn magazines also lie in the category of text porn (Williams, 516).
Types of Internet Pornography
The types of porn that are most commonly viewed on the internet include Hardcore, softcore, other and child pornography. Hardcore pornography is the highest standard of porn and is also the most popular one. It includes material that actually shows involvement in sexual activities. Softcore porn is more commonly related to models dressed in bikinis, spread-legged females, and other factors and poses that stimulate sex. The category ‘other’ includes everything from bestiality, urination, bondage, sneaky images, etc. It covers a very long list of activities that might stimulate an individual’s sexual desires.
The exhibition of child pornography on the internet is increasing at an alarming rate. It generally refers to images and videos that exhibit sexual activity involving young kids. It is the most pronounced form of child sex abuse. It has become one of the fastest-growing industries and criminals are most prominently involved in this activity. The basic aim of child pornography is to fulfill one’s sexual desires, it can be used to prepare kids for sexual abuse which in turn leads to child grooming, which itself is a very common activity. It can also be used to produce another porn movie or taking a guide in order to pursue the activity of child prostitution.
What Does Internet Pornography Suggest About Our Culture?
Internet pornography is considered to be one of the basic reasons that children, as well as teenagers, are deviating from their culture, values and norms. Culture is a very important part of an individual’s personality and once it is erased, the individual is void of all ethics and duties. Children are regularly subjected to images that come in the category of hardcore as well as softcore porn. It can be very easily said that an individual’s very initial sexual education takes place through internet pornography. Internet pornography misguides individuals about the behavior related to their sexual desires. It leads to serious problems such as teen promiscuity, abortions, early and unwanted pregnancies, etc. These problems can lead an individual to lifelong problems and he might never be able to get out of them. Parents have to be very careful and alert in monitoring the attitude of their children and keeping a check on their internet activities, iPods, cell phones, etc.
Children are the most common victims of internet pornography since they are not fully aware of the pros and cons associated with this adversity. Some of the facts that were revealed by conducting research on internet pornography are as stated:
- Internet pornography is most commonly viewed by children ranging from 12-17 years old.
- Types of research reveal that the aggregate age at which children are subjected to internet porn is 11 years old.
- Certain sites and manipulate children’s words such as Teletubbies and Pokémon as Meta tags in order to lure kids into their vulgar sites.
- There are approximately 20 new children who make their appearances on eth porn websites. Half of them are either kidnapped or sold for the purpose of sexual abuse.
Considering the above information, it is very necessary for the government to take notice of this severe problem. The restrictions, rules and regulations should be further revised and special care should be taken to impose them in areas in which they are needed the most. Blocking devices should be used so that the children can be kept away from the nuisance of this critical matter. It is stated that the inefficient porn standard will be removed and a new FTC-approved system will be introduced so as to assure that the laws are implemented and followed. This would enable the porn sites to verify the ages of their users in a more accurate manner. (Kiesler, 463)
Types of Sites That Assist in the Promotion of Internet Pornography
Depending on the services they provide, sites have been divided into categories. They are discussed as under:
- Free Sites: These sites provide examples that are related to a pay site or provide softcore porn.
- Index Sites: These sites provide information about other sites and their content. This is usually done by providing the user with a brief description of the site either through text or images. It gives an approximate figure of the number of videos or images.
- Forums: Forums often have links to the index sites. They enable the user to post, read as well as write messages. It also provides links to the different sites that the user has requested or other links related to the topic in concern.
- Pay or Membership Sites: The users of this site should own a credit card because without it these sites cannot be accessed. It is often claimed that the card is not billed, instead, it is used to verify the accurate age of the user. However, users often do not believe in this and they restrain to use such sites which require the use of eth credit card. It is obvious that the company will take care and return any money that is taken by the owner through fraud, yet people feel too embarrassed to get into this process and rather opt to cancel their cards.
- Mixed Sites: Mixed sites contain the index or links of other sites and also exhibit some photo galleries.
- Private and Hidden Sites: As the name indicates, these sites violate the laws, rules and regulations of a country. It contains a record of files stored in a free storage area. (Reichert, 294)
Hazards and Pitfalls
The hazards and pitfalls that need to be avoided while accessing any site are as mentioned below:
- Advertising: These sites have the ability to place cookies on an individual’s computer. This way the sites one visits will enable other sites to intrude on your privacy and other people using the computer will also get to know about the site history.
- Pop-ups: These are usually windows that appear on the screen when you are either visiting or leaving a site. They advertise their product. They can be very distracting as more than one pop-up can appear at a time and it can also affect the computer.
- Dummy Links: These sites usually appear when a person is using his desired site and he clicks to go to the next page only to be taken to an entirely different site. These sites can either be index sites or paysites.
- Hijacking: Some sites enable the user to download information from a particular site and once you download it, it can cause serious problems to the computer by logging it off, muting the modem, etc. This is not restricted to porn sites only; it can also lead to a person to a site that is not all related to porn material.
It is evident from the information provided in the paper that internet pornography has been gaining popularity among children, teenagers, adults equally. It is exploiting the youth at an alarming rate. Serious steps need to be taken to overcome this problem so that society does not lose its values and culture and is able to practice them in a much better manner. For this, the government needs to be active and inefficient.
- Kiesler. S. Culture of the Internet. Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. 2000
- Lehman. P. Pornography. Rutgers University Press. 2006
- Mc Bain. M. Internet Pornography iUniverse. 2002.
- Reichert. T. Sex in Advertising. Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. 2003
- Williams. L. Porn Studies. Duke University Press. 2006