Last month, Fox News published a report titled “No. 1 Nation in Sexy Web Searches? Call it Pornistan” claiming that Pakistan ranks first in porn web searches according to Google index. The report came amid heated discussions on internet censorship in Pakistan. The Lahore High Court, in an attempt to ban blasphemous content ended up passing orders to block social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even Blackberry services. This is when the blogosphere started buzzing with the issue of porn websites being accessible while social networking websites remained blocked.
On my own blog, while commenting on internet censorship and the issue of blasphemous content, I raised the issue of porn sites being accessible despite censorship in action.
For all those bent on moral-policing the internet in the name of religion, please pay some heed to the thousands of child porn websites that are still accessible in Pakistan, none of which have been mentioned in 10,428 sites to be banned. When will we learn to prioritize?
Despite all the discussions, the Fox News report came as a shocker to many, primarily because Pakistan has a low percentage of internet users compared to the rest of the world. The report not only claimed that Pakistan ranks as the top nation for porn searches but also provided keywords suggesting a considerable interest in bestiality and child porn. The report has been seen as a serious allegation and has been discussed widely by bloggers and mainstream media alike.
Kalsoom Lakhani at CHUP – Changing Up Pakistan blog is shocked and disgusted at the findings of the report:
Although I’m frankly disgusted (and horrified) that we are prominent on yet another negative list, I’m not that surprised. Because despite Fox and TIME claims that Pakistan is “a Muslim nation, notorious for conservative [and] religious orthodoxy,” we have perverts, just like every other country in the world, (cue: Pakistanis, they’re just like us!). There’s a reason why internet cafes in Pakistan are filled to the brim with seedy characters, and it’s not because they’re just checking e-mail. I am not denying the hypocrisy behind banning social media and other websites but giving a green light to the above – but hypocrisy extends to much wider issues and to all societies. The framing of the issue by Fox and other news agencies, in my opinion, is also cause for discussion.
A post on Kool Muzone gives an extensive analysis of the fox report:
Today Fox News published a report on Pakistan and refereed to it as Pornistan claiming that it is “No. 1 Nation in Sexy Web Searches”. Whatever keywords Fox News has mentioned are factual and not made-up. I don’t deny the fact that Pakistan ranks 1st on these keywords. I also don’t deny the fact that porn is popular in Pakistan. However, I deny that Pakistan is “No. 1 Nation in Sexy Web Searches” as claimed by Fox News.
The post includes detailed analysis of different keywords and carries snapshots of their Google rankings concluding:
I don’t see Pakistan occurring even in the top 10 regions here. It’s a shame how Fox news has refereed to a country as Pornistan just to sell their papers off. We all exactly know the status of Fox news in international media. The stunt they played is exactly like referring to Pakistan as “Number 1 nation in music searches” since it ranks number 1 on keyword “Sufi Music”!
Meanwhile Google officially denied the accuracy of its search trends used in the Fox News report saying that the sample size is too small for the results to be statistically sound.
Ammar Yasir criticized the report while making some valid points regarding Internet censorship in Pakistan:
Frankly speaking the standard of journalism Fox News is infamous for, its special love for Pakistan and the Muslim world over the years and Google’s disassociation with the fox story takes away our special internet achievement. But I am sure folks around the world might have a good laugh on the story and our sexy (pervert is the correct word) nature. But does it take away the fact; that some of us actually make these searches or watch porn of similar genre (scary thought)? I think not, it actually signifies another attribute of our hypocritical nature. Like banning Facebook, YouTube and even Wikipedia but no such order against porn sites, I wonder why?
Regardless of the claims made by the report one thing appears to be clear, the ongoing Internet censorship campaign against blasphemous content by the Pakistani courts appears to be targeting social networking tools rather than ‘questionable contents’ such as child porn websites.