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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About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to Forbes.com, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...