THE ADULT ONLINE INDUSTRY
Commercial, or fee-based, adult-oriented Web sites
arent the only sources of pornography on the Internet, but they
drive the publics concern when it comes to protecting kids. Although
it might not appear this way to you, adult material makes up only a small
percent of content on the World Wide Web. Its just that this sliver of
the Internet pie gets lots of attention:
- In any given week, about 70 million people worldwide
view at least one adult Web site.
- Approximately 100,000 adult sites are supported
by U.S. businesses and there are roughly another 400,000 adult sites
that exist globally.
- The adult online entertainment industry makes about
$1 billion a year.
- According to the Nielsen/Net Ratings, in February
2002 nearly 16 percent of visitors to adult Web sites were younger
18 years of age.
This last, alarming, statistic illustrates a major
concern for parents regarding the Internet: easy access. Offline,
trying to buy an adult magazine from a newsstand would be turned away
or asked for identification. Online, however, its a different
story. The child might not be turned away. Easy access can also lead to unintended exposure. This means that if your child says he or she came across
by mistake, that might indeed be exactly what happened.
Why Is It Easy to Find the Sleazy?
In addition to selling products and services, many
adult Web-site operators rely on their site ads for revenue, which makes the
adult-online industry highly competitive. Operators are known for their
aggressive customer-seeking tactics and efforts to maximize hits,
or visits. And because any hit is a good hit when getting paid by the
hit, operators are less inclined to weed out underage children. One survey
found that 74 percent of adult Web sites made their content available
to everyone, kids included, by featuring it on their first page. As for
sites that strategically black out or blur parts of suggestive pictures,
or screen out kids, its a matter of debate whether such precautions
To attract visitors, adult Web-site operators might:
- Advertise through unsolicited e-mail (spam)
- Create subscription e-mail lists
- Pay search-engine companies
for prominent placement in results
- Buy domain (Web-site) names based on sexually
oriented words or misspellings of common Web-site names
- Buy expired non-adult sites that were once popular
- Use everyday words such as doll or
girl to attract attention
- Pay other Web sites to get consumer traffic (often
by a method known as mousetrapping)