37% of the internet is porn

According to Optenet, a company that sells filtering and censorship software for schools, 37% of the internet is porn. Apparently company researchers had to look at millions of pages of porn before they figured this out. And there's more!

Another dangerous fact uncovered by the "PC home security" company is that web pages about gaming went up by 212% in the first three months of 2010 alone. And yes, you guessed it: The staff at Optenet had to look through millions of pages about videogames to find this out. I love the idea that one of Optenet's clients, like say McDonalds, Hilton, or Vodaphone, paid a bunch of researchers to hit "refresh" on Kotaku all day.

Optenet writes:

The data contained within the Optenet report is accumulated and compiled from a database of hundreds of millions of URLs, in which network computer threats and security threats are analyzed and updated continually in real-time by experts in Web content, who directly link to the security systems of Optenet's clients.

So these URLs that the "experts in Web content" looked through came from the "security systems" of Optenet's clients? I'm sure those clients are happy to know that their security systems are keeping a bunch of horny gamers entertained.

Optenet also found that web pages devoted to violence and drugs had gone up since early 2010, as did numbers of pages devoted to computers and travel. Also, pages related to online shopping have grown more than pages related to terrorism.

Geeks Are Sexy's John Lister points out:

As the company has only listed categories which have grown, and nothing that has fallen, it certainly appear these increases aren't in the proportion of sites in each category, but rather in the raw number of sites (presumably by extrapolating the sample to cover the entire web). If so, these figures don't mean much without knowing how much of it is simply down to the web growing as a whole.

There's also some questionable attitudes: the company also gives a 17% rise for a category detailed as " adult content on the Internet as well as illegal content such as child pornography and illegal drug purchase". Now while it's understandable that parents thinking of filtering such sites would want all of these blocked, there's a big legal difference between adult and child porn online. It's also curious that illegal drug purchase is considered part of "adult content" but violence isn't.

The validity of the study also depends on how stringently or loosely each page was categorized: does "illegal drugs purchase" mean the site offered the drugs for sale to the visitor, or does it also include fictional depictions. If it's the latter, then a page recapping an episode of 24 probably ticks most of the categories.

Given that this company sells filtering software to parents who are paranoid about porn, I think we can be more than 37% sure why Optenet might be seeing porn everywhere.

via Discoblog