A Little Research Goes A Long Way

Quentin Boyer

Update: AVN has corrected their article since I originally posted this entry. The headline now reads "China Shut Down 44,000 Porn Sites in 2007."

Normally, I opt out of criticizing XBIZ's competition; everybody makes mistakes, and it likely wouldn't take long to find errors and problems in my own work. Having said that, a situation arose today that simply begged for comment....

I was a bit surprised to find a headline on AVN this morning stating "U.K. Shut Down 44,000 Porn Sites in 2007." One reason for my surprise was that I had researched and written a piece for XBIZ stating the same thing -- only in reference to the Chinese government.

"In 2007, the United Kingdom shut down 44,000 pornographic websites, arrested 868 people and penalized nearly 2,000 people involved in Internet porn activities, BBC News reported Wednesday," stated the lead in AVN's article.

That's odd... the Chinese government shut down precisely the same number of websites, and arrested exactly the same number of people in 2007, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

For that matter, the only article I could find on the subject from the BBC reported the same facts, citing Xinhua as its source.

Unless one of the most staggering statistical coincidences in the history of mankind has taken place, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that AVN's reporter got it wrong.

On top of the reporting from Xinhua that served as my primary source of information, the Associated Press and other mainstream news outlets reported the same thing - China is where the crackdown in question took place.

It's a bit baffling to me how someone could confuse the U.K. and China, really. Among other things, while the U.K. has implemented some fairly stringent retrictions regarding "violent pornography," I suspect we would all have heard by now if there were a nationwide crackdown on Internet porn happening in the U.K.

This situation also highlights an interesting aspect of misinformation in the Digital Age; because AVN's article was broadcast via their RSS feed, that same inaccurate story may well be replicated on other sites that carry the feed.

The moral of the story is "check your facts" - especially if you plan to pass those facts along in automated fashion.