Parents must be warned that pornography is accessible on Wikipedia – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) –– In my dozen years addressing the issue of pornography in high schools and at churches, I have heard countless stories about how people got ensnared in pornography addiction. For my generation—the Millennials—it was usually a desktop or a laptop computer, unfiltered and unsecured, and first exposure was most often around adolescence. As we advanced further into the digital age, the age of first exposure to porn got younger, and smartphones, iPads, and tablets became the primary facilitators of addiction. 

Digital pornography is so ubiquitous that, as Dawn Hawkins of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation frequently says, she cannot fully protect her children from it—and instead must prepare them for when they inevitably encounter it. The porn industry has permeated the internet with their addictive content to ensure that even those not looking for porn will likely stumble across it at some point. Many people I know first got addicted to pornography playing innocent online games that featured frequent pop-up ads.  

When I ask students as young as Grade 6 (about aged 11) if they’ve ever had to hastily exit out of a sexually explicit pop-up ad while playing a game targeted at children, the vast majority of them raise their hands—at every school. 

Instagram is another prominent on-ramp for addiction. In the past two years especially, many young men have told me that they stumbled first across imagery of scantily-clad women on the photo platform, clicked on hashtags, and ended up addicted to the reams of content that is readily available. Indeed, social media users are increasingly not able to curate their online experiences—click on the search function in Instagram, and you’ll find sexual imagery within a scroll or two. As I noted earlier in this space, Elon Musk is poised to more formally permit porn on X (formerly Twitter) as well. 

A LifeSiteNews reader recently drew our attention to another prominent website where people can stumble inadvertently on pornography: Wikipedia. The reader rightly noted that Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is often the first stop for people when researching a subject, and that parents generally allow their children to use it for learning purposes and school projects. Wikimedia Commons is filled with pornographic images under a wide range of topic headings. There is no advisory; no parental controls; no warning. Many young people I know got addicted to pornography and spent years struggling due to precisely this sort of accidental encounter. 

This problem isn’t new for Wikipedia. Back in 2012, Fox News published a report titled “Why is Wikipedia still doling out porn?” It was an update to a 2010 Fox investigation into allegations that child pornography could be found on Wikipedia from co-founder Larry Sanger, and led “to a nationwide scandal, massive sitewide pornography purges and pledges to ‘do better.’” Major donors demanded change. The 2012 update indicated that Wikimedia Commons, “the image repository for Wikipedia that’s accessed daily by millions of kids for school research—is still littered with graphic pornography.”  

The images, Fox News noted, could pop up in entirely unrelated searches, noting that the word “underwater” turned up a photo of “a woman tied up, naked, and submerged face down in a bathtub.” On the online encyclopedia itself, sexual imagery can also be found (although less of it than at Wikimedia Commons). Wikipedia features user-generated content, and the porn industry has taken full advantage of this fact; back in 2012, the company responded by saying that parents should oversee their children’s use of the site. As it turns out, a dozen years later and Wikipedia is still littered with graphic pornography.  

Parents should be aware of this and carefully monitor internet usage. Many parents believe that their child would never deliberately search out pornography, and that might be true. It is also true that the porn industry is actively searching for ways to put their content in front of your child’s eyes—even when they are on entirely innocent websites.  

Jonathon’s writings have been translated into more than six languages and in addition to LifeSiteNews, has been published in the National Post, National Review, First Things, The Federalist, The American Conservative, The Stream, the Jewish Independent, the Hamilton Spectator, Reformed Perspective Magazine, and LifeNews, among others. He is a contributing editor to The European Conservative.

His insights have been featured on CTV, Global News, and the CBC, as well as over twenty radio stations. He regularly speaks on a variety of social issues at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

He is the author of The Culture War, Seeing is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of Abortion, Patriots: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Pro-Life Movement, Prairie Lion: The Life and Times of Ted Byfield, and co-author of A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide with Blaise Alleyne.

Jonathon serves as the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

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