Approximately 88 percent of homemade sexual material uploaded online ends up on porn websites, a study by the Internet Watch Foundation has found.
The study found more than 10,000 of the 12,000 sexually explicit videos and images it tracked were copied from an original source and plastered onto public websites. The sexual material in the study was first uploaded privately or anonymously to the Internet, mostly on social networking and webcam sites, and then harvested by so-called "parasite websites." These sites crawl the Internet in search of sexual content, specifically from young people, and in some cases steal passwords or hack accounts to gain access. The IWF found 68 separate "parasites" websites hosting the material it tracked.
"This research gives an unsettling indication of the number of images and videos on the Internet featuring young people performing sexually explicit acts or posing," said Susie Hargreaves, the CEO of IWF, in statement. "It also highlights the problem of control of these images - once an image has been copied onto a parasite website, it will no longer suffice to simply remove the image from the online account."
The "parasite" websites that compile homemade sexual material are in many ways an intersection of two of the largest uses for the Internet: social networking and pornography.
According to Reuters, social networking traffic only recently surpassed that of pornography. An examination of pornography websites by tech website Extreme Tech found that the traffic to the largest porn sites "dwarf almost everything except the Googles and Facebooks of the Internet." The largest site, it found, generates 4.4 billion page views per month, twice as much as social giant Reddit. It estimated that porn accounts for 30 percent of the total data transferred on the Internet.
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Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.