Home  › Stats › Audience/Traffic

Americans Find Graphic Images Online

  |  July 9, 2004   |  Comments

Cultural, gender, and economic divisions are evident among those that approve of the availability of graphic images and those that don't, as millions of Internet users actively search for the disturbing photos and videos.

What Americans are not seeing in the mainstream media they are finding online, according to research from The Pew Internet & American Life Project that reveals the Internet is becoming a source of graphic or disturbing images. Recent events in Iraq, such as murder, prison abuse, and graphic depictions of wartime, have been widely available online, and, in some cases, Internet users are seeking them out.

Roughly 30 million Americans – or 24 percent of adult Internet users – have seen graphic war images online, with 8.4 million actively looking for the pictures or videos. The surge in disturbing image searching has been illustrated in the popular search terms of the week as serious topics have become interspersed throughout the references to pop culture. In fact, the Yahoo Buzz Index for the week ending July 4, 2004 listed "American Beheading Video" as the 12th most popular search term.

The Pew report identified cultural, gender, and economic divisions among those that approved or disapproved of the availability of disturbing online images, with the largest disparity seen between men and women.

"...while there's definitely an appetite (perhaps an unpleasant word) for seeing the most graphic images, that [interest] comes from a somewhat rarified group – Internet users, men, younger, higher socioeconomic group," remarked Deb Fallows, Pew Internet Project senior research fellow and author of the report.

Reactions to Graphic Images Online
Group Approve the display of the images online Disapprove the display of the images online
Men 53% 36%
Women 29% 61%
Under age 30 52% 41%
Over age 30 37% 51%
College grad or higher 47% 43%
HS grad or less 34% 55%
Household over $50k/year 52% 40%
Household under $50k/year 35% 55%
Internet users 47% 44%
Non-Internet users 29% 58%
Democrats 52% 41%
Independents 53% 40%
Republicans 42% 49%
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

Survey respondents were nearly split on whether or not newspapers and television should show war images to the public, with 47 percent saying that the images should be shown, 41 percent saying they shouldn't be shown, and 7 percent saying that it depends. Whether the demand provides the incentive to show the images in the mainstream media remains to be seen.

Fallows says that the networks and cable especially are probably struggling with this issue. "If I were looking at our data from their [network and cable] perspective, I'd notice that Americans at large (including both Internet users and non-Internet users) are much more comfortable with the traditional, familiar standards of the mainstream media (TV and newspapers) than they are with the (lack of) standards of the Internet."

Of the 2,200 respondents to the May through June 2004 survey, 76 percent saw images of Iraqi prisoners of war being abused by American soldiers; 60 percent saw images of American civilian Nicholas Berg, held hostage and murdered in Iraq by Islamic terrorists; and 52 percent saw images of American contractors killed in Fallujah.

Just over half (51 percent) of those who viewed the images felts that had made a good decision, while 33 percent expressed regret. Another 7 percent were conflicted, feeling that it was a good decision but they wished they hadn't seen them.

Fallows noticed that while there's not all that much comfort with the images that are being covered by the mainstream media, there's also a lot of discomfort once people have viewed the images online.

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Early Bird Rates available through Friday, July 18. Register now and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Stats delivers stats headlines to your inbox twice a week. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

Jobs

    • Financial Writer/Content Editor
      Financial Writer/Content Editor (The Sovereign Society) - Delray BeachDent Research, a growing financial publishing firm which provides cutting...
    • SEO Manager
      SEO Manager (Red Spot Interactive) - JupiterDue to  Red Spot Interactive's continued product and client successes, Red Spot Interactive...
    • Accountant
      Accountant (Agora Publishing) - BaltimoreAgora, Inc. an international publishing company located in the historical Mount Vernon district of Baltimore...