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Pornography in the News

A roundup of the latest news stories about the harms of hypersexualized media and pornography

Free and easily accessible explicit sexual content presents an array of dangers, especially to young people. Our team researched the latest news and updates on the harms of pornography and its negative impact on kids and identified common trends — from sophisticated AI pornography to child trafficking on Facebook to serious health consequences for teens viewing excessive pornography.

The concerning news demonstrates pornography’s widespread influence and how it is advancing alongside our technological world. It is also the reason why age verification laws are spreading throughout the United States, another frequently reported update as more states pass this new legislation.

As noted in many of the stories here, the most effective way to prevent children and teens from becoming victims of the effects of pornography and hypersexualized media is by informing them of the dangers. Catch up on the news below, and visit our free resources and free courses for parents to learn how you can teach your child to be vigilant and safely navigate our digital world.

The Threat of AI-Generated Pornography

The rapidly advancing world of artificial intelligence (AI) is elevating existing dangers linked to the porn industry, such as sextortion. Advancements in AI make it easy for anyone to create sophisticated deepfakes and AI-generated pornography, which includes altering photos and videos into explicit content without the owner’s consent.

According to this New York Post article, the FBI has reported “an uptick in sextortion victims reporting the use of fake images or videos created from content posted on their social media sites or web postings, provided to the malicious actor upon request, or captured during video chats.”

Cybersecurity experts urge parents to have honest conversations with their children to make them aware of the “life-altering risks” of their online activity.

Currently, there is no federal law against deepfake pornography, despite the millions of women who are becoming victims of this nonconsensual pornography. A new piece of legislation, introduced by Congressman Joe Morelle, would make sharing this type of AI-generated pornography illegal in the United States.

In this interview with ABC News, Morelle explained, “This bill aims to make sure there are both criminal penalties, as well as civil liability for anyone who posts, without someone’s consent, images of them appearing to be involved in pornography.”

Read more about AI-generated pornography:

  • How AI Makes It Even Harder to Protect Your Teen From Sextortion Online (New York Post) Cybersecurity experts are warning teens and parents of the ever-increasing dangers of sharing suggestive images with strangers.
  • Sharing Deepfake Pornography Could Soon Be Illegal in America (ABC News) The rise of AI-generated content exploded due to accessibility and ease of use.

Dangers of Social Media

In April, The Guardian published findings from its two-year investigation of Meta, suggesting that the tech giant “is struggling to prevent criminals from using its platforms to buy and sell children for sex.” Since then, Meta has initiated a task force to investigate how Instagram “facilitates the spread and sale of child sexual abuse material.”

The task force was created in response to a report that discovered “large networks of accounts that appeared to be operated by minors openly advertising self-generated child sexual abuse material for sale.” The material was being shared via direct messages on Instagram. The report identified that the platform’s “recommendation algorithms made the advertisements of the illicit material more effective.”

In an article from NPR, a screen-time consultant who coaches parents about digital technology ​​urges parents to delay giving their kids a cell phone, no matter how hard they beg. She argues that it comes with a dangerous set of risks, many of which are related to sexually explicit content and happen on popular social media apps.

Read more about the dangers of social media:

  • How Facebook and Instagram Became Marketplaces for Child Trafficking (The Guardian) A two-year investigation suggests that the tech giant Meta is struggling to prevent criminals from using its platforms to buy and sell children for sex.
  • Meta Starts Task Force in Fight Against Child Pornography on Instagram (Washington Post) A Stanford University report found large networks of accounts operated by minors advertising self-generated images of child sexual abuse.
  • So your tween wants a smartphone? Read this first. (NPR) Before you click “place order” on that smartphone, pause and consider a few insights from a person who makes a living helping parents and tweens navigate the murky waters of smartphones and social media.

Pornography’s Effect on Health & Sex

Watching porn has negative emotional, behavioral, and sexual effects on viewers, especially when those users are children and teens. A content series in the Sydney Morning Herald explores the ease of accessing pornography in Australia and the adverse effects it is having on young people’s behaviors.

In the UK, The Guardian asked young adults to share how they felt they had been affected by seeing online porn as a child. Readers expressed feeling “damaged,” “shame,” and “intense shock.” Others shared how they became addicted and the impact it has had on their sexual relationships.

The Evening Standard further explored this topic in an article about the dangerous trend of young girls’ expecting to be choked during sex, influenced heavily by porn, as did the New York Post with this story about erectile dysfunction in young men who view excessive porn.

Read more about porn’s effect on health and sex:

  • What Violent Porn Is Doing to Australia’s Teens (Sydney Morning Herald) All it takes is three clicks for a child to access porn. And it is adversely affecting young people’s behaviors.
  • ‘It stole my soul’: Readers on How Watching Porn at a Young Age Affected Their Life (The Guardian) Intense shock, addiction, and losing interest in other activities are some of the readers’ experiences.
  • The Terrifying Rise of Young Girls Expecting to Be Choked During Sex (Evening Standard) There is an alarming rise in a “dangerous and degrading” sexual trend among young people, of which porn is a huge driving force.
  • Porn ‘Completely Ruined’ Lives of Young Men Experiencing Erectile Dysfunction (New York Post) Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is an epidemic plaguing young men who grew up with unlimited access to internet porn.

Popularity of Age Verification Laws in the U.S.

Age verification laws, which require users to prove their age with government-issued identification when visiting a porn site, are quickly passing across the U.S.

Starting with Louisiana — in which Culture Reframed Founder & President Gail Dines played an influential role in speaking to legislators about the harms of pornography — a total of seven states so far have passed legislation, and 16 others have introduced similar bills. This has led to a significant decrease in traffic to porn sites.

In some states, Pornhub, the top-ranked adult website with 42 billion visits in 2019, has ceased service entirely.

Read more about age verification laws:

  • Pornhub Will Now Check Government IDs in This State. Is Yours Next? (Entrepreneur) A state law passed in June requires sites with sexually explicit material to verify that its viewers are at least 18 years of age.
  • A New Utah Law Led PornHub to Ban Access to Its Site for Everyone in the State (NPR) Utah’s new law requiring adult websites to verify user’s age has resulted in Pornhub disabling its site in the state.

Explore Our Free Online Programs for Parents

Explore Our Free Online Programs for Parents Where are your kids getting their sex education? Their smartphones? In this digital age, it’s critical for young people to have trusted adults to help them build resilience and resistance to hypersexualized media and porn. Check out Culture Reframed’s free online Programs for Parents of Tweens and Parents of Teens.