.xxx won’t make porn more accessible IF…

…for now – until the blocking technology works with all browsers – families make it a rule that kids use Firefox and they download this plug-in for it: the MetaCert Add-on. Firefox is the only browser for which there’s a .xxx blocking tool, but that’s changing. It’ll work with Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera soon, and I’m sure the major stand-alone filtering products will soon offer updates that you’ll want to look for. So you probably guessed by now that the long-discussed, controversial all-adult-content-all-the-time .xxx top-level domain just launched (see Mashable.com for the history). Porn operators aren’t in any way required to migrate their sites into .xxx, so little has changed. People can still seek out or stumble upon online pornography as before. What has changed is that porn will be easier to find now because anything with .xxx in its URL is guaranteed to be sexually explicit. So families can go back to the adult-content status quo or pre-.xxx conditions with the MetaCert plug-in – theoretically, anyway, since this is all just starting and there’s no research. The good news is that the company behind .xxx, the ICM Registry, requires all .xxx sites to be labeled by MetaCert so that it can block them if used. It also requires sites to be free of the malware associated with so many porn sites out on the Web at large, reports my ConnectSafely.com co-director Larry Magid in Forbes.com, so this is the new sort of high-end “red-light district” of the Internet.

MetaSert has been busy. The company has been detecting and cataloging adult content on the Web at large for several years, now with “more than 250 million sexually explicit Web pages across all TLDs [labeled], including those ending in .com,” according to Larry. That means two things, for starters: 1) it detects adult content in individual pages in general-interest, non-adult sites (not just sites as a whole), including links to those pages, so it’ll give users advance notice (maybe Facebook and other social network sites will adopt it), and 2) their technology can be used in filtering software for the Web as a whole too, not just in browser plug-ins for blocking out .xxx. It may even turn up in filtering software you already use, so check with its developers and look for updates. But it’s hard to tell if the new red-light district will be a “success.” “Five years from now, .xxx could be a bustling adult marketplace, or a gaudy ghost town,” says Mashable. The .mobi and .kids TLDs certainly didn’t thrive (here’s some coverage of mine on .kids in 2004 and 2005). “Will the same thing will happen to .xxx?” asks Mashable. “That depends on how strong the ICM Resistry’s outreach is to the adult-entertainment community, and how consumers respond.”


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