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Brits prefer news to porn (but only just, and Tweeting trumps them both)

 
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At first glance the news story headline from The Telegraph was rather comforting: Britons spend more web time reading news than looking at pornography. That's one big finger flipped up in the face of all those who decry the Internet as being a cesspool of depravity and the people who use it as bereft of a moral compass. However, when you read behind the headline things do not look quite so clear cut.

The story came about as a result of research published by the United Kingdom Online Measurement Company (UKOM) which suggested that the proportion of time that the British spend looking at online porn had dropped over the last three years while online news consumption has all but doubled during that same period.

Thing is, the actual percentages are so close you might as well run a headline that says 'Brits like online news and porn' and it would have been just as accurate. Apparently we spend an average of 2.8 percent of our time consuming news while adult website browsing accounts for an average 2.7 percent of that time.

So when the newspaper followed this 'revelation' with a quote from a UKOM spokesperson that "the prevalence of web adult usage has always been greatly overestimated" which is true enough, but to suggest that these figures somehow punctured the myth that porn was behind Internet popularity is bizarre if you ask me.

For a start, choosing the news and porn numbers seems odd considering they are so close to each other and so damn small. Far better, surely, to state that social networking trumps porn online when you consider that it accounts for 22.7 percent of average online time. Or how about using email on 7.2 percent, online games playing on 6.9 percent or even instant messaging on 4.9 percent for that matter?

If anything, the number suggest that porn is of little real consequence in the overall scheme of online usage things but also suggests exactly the same of online news...

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Davey Winder

I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .

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