Friday, July 20, 2007

Reuters Shocked Young Nigerians Use Laptops for Porn

Recently 300 laptop computers were donated to students in Nigeria through the One Laptop Per Child program—despite many students lacking the electricity to recharge them. But never mind that myopic oversight, we've got Reuters with this sensationalistic follow-up trying to pass for news:
The News Agency of Nigeria said its reporter had seen pornographic images stored on several of the children's laptops.
Heavens to Betsy! Excuse me while I smooth out my rumpled bloomers.
"Efforts to promote learning with laptops in a primary school in Abuja have gone awry as the pupils freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials," NAN said.
"Gone awry?" I would say a project to donate laptops "went awry" when you gave them out to a town without electricity. Of course, Reuters doesn't want to bother with such details; rather, its focus is on young Nigerians' apparent unnatural interest in sex.

A representative of the One Laptop Per Child aid group was quoted as saying that the computers, part of a pilot scheme, would now be fitted with filters.

Filters are all well and good (despite the fact they are easy to circumvent), but I just don't know what unrealistic standards Reuters or the Nigerian News Agency are holding Nigerian students to, given that perhaps 90% of children using the Internet between the ages of 8-16 have been exposed to pornography, and more than 40% of all Internet users admit to regularly looking up porn (according to this website); so, is it any surprise to discover the practice might go on among young adults in Nigeria, too?

My guess is that the "news" for Reuters is that an apparently altruistic computer donation has somehow been sullied by Nigerian students' baser instincts. Rather than call into question the wisdom of OLPC's plan to pass out free laptops without thought to sustainability, practicality, or supervision, the focus of the article seems to be underlining and subtly criticizing young Nigerians' sexual curiosity.

So now that Reuters has confirmed that, gasp, given the opportunity, some young Africans will seek out pornography, (just like their Western peers), perhaps the news agency can shift their coverage back to the real issues of the day, such as confirming the Earth still orbits the sun and humans require oxygen to breathe.

Meanwhile journalistic double standards are alive and well, and that's something that we'll continue hearing little about.

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