Sex is a universal interest, and porn a guilty pleasure. Those who search "sex" on Google are most often seeking access to something in the privacy of their own homes, something they would feel ashamed to access by other means.
So we asked the question, as conflict has unraveled throughout the Middle East — during the Arab Spring, US invasions, government crackdowns — how has the interest in sex evolved?
Online searches can stem from curiosity, unanswered questions, or even health concerns. But often those who google “sex” are looking for porn; the top searches include “free sex,” “hot sex,” or “sex video.”
By tracking the word “sex” as an English word, in countries where English is not the primary language, chances are that the searchers are not looking for information to read. Porn is illegal in most countries in the MENA region, so residents would realistically seek it from a foreign source.
In a sense, having access to porn, and time to pursue it, is a type of luxury. Internet access without censorship is a crucial part of a citizen’s right to freedom of information. Interest in sex is also an important aspect of emotional health — it’s normal to be curious about it, and to want it.
But when revolutions begin, priorities change.
It’s important to note, historical events pointed out on the maps have no direct relationship with the data. There are countless other factors that could be contributing to the changes in sex’s Google popularity. But the stark declines or increases in these countries often come around the same time, so we wanted to explore it.
(Note: The data from Google Trends do not represent the number of total Google searches. The graphs show “100” as the most popular time for the country, with all other numbers adjusted accordingly. Every country’s data is relative and not comparable among each other. All illustrations by Hayat Norimine)