Internet users scour the Internet for porn during the Christmas period, or at last that’s what one security company has claimed.

According to antivirus company ESET, running the search term ‘porn’ through Google Trends reveals a rising tide of searches since 2004, consistently spiking every Christmas during that time.


Google Trends_search for porn term graph.png


Here’s an alternative explanation. The overall year-on-year rise can be explained by a growing population of Internet users, while the spikes are a natural consequence of the fact that people use the Internet to search for almost everything more often during a holiday. Running almost any popular search term I could think of through Google delivered similar spikes at Christmas.

Try it with the word ‘holiday; or even ‘vacation’ as an example.

What about the possibility that people are still looking for sexual content more often during the Christmas period? Even that is open to some doubt. Running a search for the word ‘porn does not by any means mean that adult content is what is being searched for. During 2010, there were several high-profile stories that involved porn as a theme of some sort.
Here are some examples that Google itself highlighted:

SEC staffers watched porn as economy crashed’; ‘Porn sites closer to .xxx web address’; ‘California porn actor tests positive for HIV’
(the last one happened in December).

This perfectly illustrates the larger problem that porn filtering systems struggle with - porn is a perfectly legitimate theme in some contexts.

And it’s also yet another reason why the UK government’s recently-expressed hope that UK users can be made to opt in to browse porn is doomed to be little more than a headline-grabbing gesture.