How the Web is less pornographic than you think

An expert in porn statistics suggests that only 4 percent of the top million Web sites are actually porn sites. And only 13 percent of all searches are for erotic content. Have we become a balanced Web society?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

It's easy to believe that we are surrounded by smut.

Whenever people talk of the Web, they seem to be sure that it's merely a repository of naughty content for little boys who sit staring into their screens for 16 hours a day.

This may all be true. It also may be, though, that the little boys' activity is somehow balanced out by the righteous behavior of society's remainder.

My laps were positively dancing when I read a lengthy and stimulating Forbes piece which attempted to disabuse the nihilists and naysayers of the notion that the Web is Porn Central.

The fine mind and heart of Ogi Ogas, co-author of "A Billion Wicked Thoughts," offered Forbes a little hard-nerd perspective on how much erotica is viewed on the Web.

Ogas has made oglers his life's work. Indeed, he only stopped compiling his erotic stats in order to go on book tour.

Perhaps not as much as you might think. (Not everyone loves New York either.) CC Wrote/Flickr

Still, here is an interesting piece of intellectual foreplay: as of 2010, only 4 percent of the top 1 million Web sites are erotic in nature. Yes, a mere 42,337. This doesn't offer mere hope for our salvation. It offers the idea that humanity is far happier and far more physically networked than we might have thought.

Perhaps, though, this might be merely an expression of human shyness. Perhaps we search for carnal feasts for our eyes, but then cannot muster the appetite to consume. Ogas' numbers suggest that a piffling 13 percent of searches are for erotic content. Which must mean that at least 84 percent are for amusing images of cats and Kim Kardashian's asp.

I can feel you--at least those of you activated by left-brain analysis--salivating for more vital statistics. You will be wondering, for example, which is the most popular porn site in the world.

Ogas' undisputed champion is called LiveJasmin. It is a site that features women stripping live. Ogas claims that 2.5 percent of all the Web's humanity goes to LiveJasmin once a month. (The Technically Incorrect comments section is happy to act as a confessional.) 2.5 percent is the sort of number that can often swing an election, so I feel sure that many a campaign manager will be taking note of this and be ready for canvassing these quarters.

It seems a given, though, that these still-large volumes generally don't make vast fortunes for the site's operators. So much of online porn seems to operate on the free love principle that Ogas is skeptical that vast funds are actually being generated.

The most popular porn site in the U.S. is called PornHub. Yes, that PornHub. It has, according to Ogas, 16 million viewers a month, a figure which some might find strangely small.

Utah, though, is apparently the queen of paid porn subscription. Which surely suggests it has an upstanding population that isn't interested in a free ride.

Then there's this beguiling suggestion from the porn-stat man: "I've heard from different adult operators that the Republican states have higher per-capita subscription rates. Meaning, they're more likely to pay money--they don't know about free porn viewing."

To some, that might seem as ridiculous as not knowing about global warming or evolution. But I have always been against the conflation of sex and politics.

My own passionate belief is that fewer (than expected) Americans are focused on temporary carnal joys because they are far more concerned with finding ways to solve the fiscal crisis, the Social Security crisis, and the constant troubles of the participants in "Basketball Wives."

Move over, free love. We are too busy Google searching "Free us from this madness."