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The Internet Essay, Research Paper

As Americans become increasingly computer literate, they are discovering an unusual and exploding repertoire of pornographic imagery on computer networks. Every time consumers log on, their transactions assist pornographers in compiling databases of information about their buying habits and sexual tastes. The more sophisticated computer pornographers are using these databases to develop mathematical models to determine which images they should try to market aggressively. They are paying close attention to all forms of paraphilia, including pedophilic, bestiality, and urophilic images, believing these markets to be among the most lucrative. They are using the Usenet and World Wide Web to advertise their products and maintaining detailed records of which images are downloaded most frequently.

In addition, the market for computer pornography is evolving rapidly. A decade ago, few people had access to the technology necessary to store, transmit, or receive pornographic images on computers. During the past few years, however, pornographers have begun to utilize computer networks and the unprecedented distribution channels they offer to penetrate markets throughout the world where public access to pornography has been historically restricted, including China, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Turkey.

Computer pornographers are also moving from a market saturation policy to market segmentation, or even individualized, marketing phase. Until now, most have saturated customers with tens of thousands of images, reasoning that their customers would inevitably find material that they liked. However, few customers have the patience or technical resources to perform the extensive database analysis necessary to quickly download only the images they prefer. Pornographers now have sufficient information to dramatically shrink the size of their portfolios, while at the same time increasing their subscriber revenues. A few have already begun to do so.

It is clear that pornography is being vigorously marketed in increasingly sophisticated ways and has now found a receptive audience in a wide variety of computer environments. According to industry experts, and the pornographers themselves, there are at least five factors, in addition to an increased focus on paraphilic content, which account for this recent explosion of pornography via computer networks. First, consumers enjoy considerable privacy on computer networks and can easily avoid the potential embarrassment of walking into an “adult” store to acquire pornography. Second, consumers have the ability to download only those images that they find most sexually arousing. Previously, a consumer had to purchase an entire magazine or video in order to gain access to a few desired depictions. Third, easy, discrete storage of pornographic images on a computer enables consumers to conceal them from family members, friends, and associates. Fourth, the prevalence and fear of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases has helped pornographers to successfully market “modem sex” and autoeroticism as “safe” and viable alternatives to the dangers of “real” sex. Finally, new and highly advanced computer technologies are quickly being absorbed into the mainstream, permitting an ever-expanding audience to gain access to digitized pornography available on the “Information Superhighway.”

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