by: Matt Rhodes

It’s official. Where once pornography was the most popular thing searched for on the Internet, social networking has now taken it’s place. So says research reported in today’s Daily Telegraph. The finding comes from the the work of Bill Tancer, Head of Research at HitWise, and is based on analysing the search habits of 10 million Internet users.

As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased. My theory is that young users spend so much time on social networks that they don’t have time to look at adult sites.

I agree in part with Tancer’s observation. It is probably true that young people are spending more time on social networking sites than on adult sites. But I am not necessarily convinced that it is because they are spending so much time on social networks that they don’t have time for porn. Rather I think that this research reflects a growing maturity in the way we use the Internet.

The real progress we are witnessing with Web2.0 is that we are moving from an environment where information (be it news, product information or even pornography) is pushed out on the web by publishers, to one where the web is more about the way people interact. When it was just about pushing out information then the main reason people used the Internet was to find something that they couldn’t find elsewhere, or that wasn’t easily available to them. This was fertile ground for pornography, making it easier for people to find and view in relative privacy. Now the web is about interacting, about finding people and answers to questions rather than just information that others have put online. In this environment there are so many more things that people can do online. They can find people like them, they can ask questions of people in similar situations and they can interact with real people rather than just with content uploaded by publishers.

So while I agree that people spend more time on social networking than ever before, I think the real reason that social networking has overtaken porn on the web is more to do with the ever increasing opportunities that the web now presents. It is suited to more things and to interactions rather than just viewing content. The web has developed and it is no longer the place it was.

Some more reading

Original Post: http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2008/09/social-networking-more-popular-than-porn/

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