Pornified Content on Social Media

Exploring the Impact on Brazilian Addicts


  • Débora Martini University of Colorado Boulder
  • Harsha Gangadharbatla University of Colorado Boulder


social media, communication, pornography


Research shows that the role of social media in our society is complex. While there are positives such as networking for professional and social opportunities, social support, connecting with friends and family, and fulfilling our need to belong, there are also several potential negative effects of social media use such as cyberbullying, increased anxiety, low self-esteem, breach of privacy, mental health issues, and low grades and motivations among students to name a few. One potential negative impact is the role of pornified content on social media in serving as a trigger for people on the road to porn abstinence. Porn addiction and its various triggers have been studied extensively in several fields but the role of pornified content on social media is yet to be fully studied or understood. The current exploratory study uses a survey method to investigate the role of pornified content on social media in serving as a trigger for porn addiction among Brazilian porn addicts. Results suggest that some social media content is seen as a trigger by self-identified porn addicts, and the factors that influence such perceptions include age of the addict, gender, and the number of times they have relapsed. And changes in behavior on social media are influenced by individuals’ perceptions of social media content as a trigger.


Albright, J. M. (2008). Sex in America online: An exploration of sex, marital status, and sexual identity in internet sex seeking and its impacts. Journal of Sex Research, 45(2), 175–186.

Akram, W., & Kumar, R. (2017). A Study on Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society. International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering, 5(10), 351–354.

Alimoradi, Z., Lin, C. Y., Imani, V., Griffiths, M. D., & Pakpour, A. H. (2019). Social media addiction and sexual dysfunction among Iranian women: The mediating role of intimacy and social support. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 8(2), 318–325.

Amedie, J. (2015). The Impact of Social Media on Society. Pop Culture Intersections. 2.

Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., Kuss, D. J., Mazzoni, E., Billieux, J., Demetrovics, Z., & Pallesen, S. (2016). The Relationship Between Addictive Use of Social Media and Video Games and Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders: A Large-Scale Cross-Sectional Study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(2), 252–262.

Attwood, F. (2005). What do people do with porn? Qualitative research into the comsumption, use, and experience of pornography and other sexually explicit media. Sexuality and Culture, 9(2), 65–86.

Attwood, F. (2006). Sexed up: Theorizing the sexualization of culture. Sexualities, 9(1), 77–94.

Attwood, F. (2009). Introduction. In F. Attwood (Ed.), Mainstreaming Sex. I.B. Tauris.

Baldim, F. A. (2017). O vício em pornografia: considerações sobre a internet e a adicção na atualidade [ Pornography addiction: considerations about internet and addiction in actuality]. Universidade Estadual de Maringá.

Ballester-Arnal, R., Castro Calvo, J., Gil-Llario, M. D., & Gil-Julia, B. (2017). Cybersex Addiction: A Study on Spanish College Students. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 43(6), 567–585.

Bashir, H., & Bhat, S. A. (2017). Effects of social media on mental health: A review. International Journal of Indian Psychology, 4(3), 125-131.

Barton, B. (2021). The Pornification of America. In The Pornification of America. New York University Press.

Bernheim, D. B., & Rangel, A. (2004). Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes. The American Economic Review, 94(5), 1558–1590.

Blais-Lecours, S., Vaillancourt-Morel, M. P., Sabourin, S., & Godbout, N. (2016). Cyberpornography: Time Use, Perceived Addiction, Sexual Functioning, and Sexual Satisfaction. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(11), 649–655.

Bőthe, B., Tóth-Király, I., Zsila, Á., Griffiths, M. D., Demetrovics, Z., & Orosz, G. (2018). The Development of the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale (PPCS). Journal of Sex Research, 55(3), 395–406.

Carey, R. J. (2020). Drugs and memory: Evidence that drug effects can become associated with contextual cues by being paired post-trial with consolidation/re-consolidation. Mini review. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 192(December 2019), 172911.

Chaudhri, N., Sahuque, L. L., & Janak, P. H. (2008). Context-Induced Relapse of Conditioned Behavioral Responding to Ethanol Cues in Rats. Biological Psychiatry, 64(3), 203–210.

Cooper, A. (1998). Sexuality and the Internet: Surfing into the New Millennium. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 1(2), 187–193.

Cooper, A., Delmonico, D. L., & Burg, R. (2000). Cybersex users, abusers, and compulsives : New findings and implications. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 7, 5–29.

Couldry, N., & Hepp, A. (2016). The Mediated Construction of Reality. Polity Press.

Coyne, S. M., Rogers, A. A., Zurcher, J. D., Stockdale, L., & Booth, M. (2020). Does time spent using social media impact mental health?: An eight year longitudinal study. Computers in Human Behavior, 104, 106160.

de Alarcón, R., de la Iglesia, J., Casado, N., & Montejo, A. (2019). Online Porn Addiction: What We Know and What We Don’t—A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(1), 91.

Duffy, A., Dawson, D. L., & das Nair, R. (2016). Pornography Addiction in Adults: A Systematic Review of Definitions and Reported Impact. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13(5), 760–777.

Duportail, J., Kayser-Bril, N., Schacht, K., & Richard, É. (2020). Undress or fail: Instagram’s algorithm strong-arms users into showing skin. Algorithm Watch.

Dwulit, A. D., & Rzymski, P. (2019). Prevalence, Patterns and Self-Perceived ffects of Pornography Consumption in Polish University Students: A Cross-Sectional Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16, 1–16.

Elsheikh, S., & Bashir, T. Z. (2004). High-risk relapse situations and self-efficacy: Comparison between alcoholics and heroin addicts. Addictive Behaviors, 29(4), 753–758.

Fisher, L. A., Elias, J. W., & Ritz, K. (1998). Predicting Relapse to Substance Abuse as a Function of Personality Dimensions. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 22(5), 1041–1047.

Gamito, P., Oliveira, J., Baptista, A., Morais, D., Lopes, P., Rosa, P., Santos, N., & Brito, R. (2014). Eliciting nicotine craving with virtual smoking cues. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(8), 556–561.

Gangadharbatla, H. (2008). FacebookMe. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 8(2), 5–15.

Garett, R., Lord, L., & Young, S. D. (2016). Associations between social media and cyberbullying: a review of the literature. mHealth, 2, 46.

Gill, R. (2012). The sexualisation of culture? Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6(7), 483–498.

Gola, M., Lewczuk, K., & Skorko, M. (2016). What Matters: Quantity or Quality of Pornography Use? Psychological and Behavioral Factors of Seeking Treatment for Problematic Pornography Use. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13(5), 815–824.

Griffiths, M. D. (2012). Internet sex addiction: A review of empirical research. Addiction Research and Theory, 20(2), 111–124.

Grubbs, J. B., Stauner, N., Exline, J. J., Pargament, K. I., & Lindberg, M. J. (2015). Perceived Addiction to Internet Pornography and Psychological Distress: Examining Relationships Concurrently and over Time. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 29(4), 1056–1067.

Grubbs, J. B., Wilt, J. A., Exline, J. J., & Pargament, K. I. (2018). Predicting pornography use over time: Does self-reported “addiction” matter? Addictive Behaviors, 82(February), 57–64.

Guerra, V. M., Andrade, F. C. B. de, & Dias, M. R. (2004). Atitudes de estudantes universitários frente ao consumo de materiais pornográficos. Estudos de Psicologia, 9(2), 269–277.

Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2010). Multivariate data analysis: International version. New Jersey, Pearson.

Holas, P., Draps, M., Kowalewska, E., Lewczuk, K., & Gola, M. (2020). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention trial for compulsive sexual behaviour disorder.

Hughes, J. R., Keely, J., & Naud, S. (2004). Shape of the relapse curve and long-term abstinence among untreated smokers. Addiction, 99(1), 29–38.

Hymas, C. (2018, July 20). Children will be able to watch porn on social media sites because of loophole in rules, BBFC admits. The Telegraph, July, 1–2.

Kraus, S., Martino, S., & Potenza, M. N. (2016). Clinical characteristics of men interested in seeking treatment for use of pornography. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 5(2), 169–178.

Kraus, S., & Rosenberg, H. (2014). The pornography craving questionnaire: Psychometric properties. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(3), 451–462.

Kraus, S., Rosenberg, H., Martino, S., Nich, C., & Potenza, M. N. (2017). The development and initial evaluation of the pornography-use avoidance self-efficacy scale. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 6(3), 354–363.

Lasén, A., & García, A. (2015). ‘… but I haven’t got a body to show’: Self-pornification and male mixed feelings in digitally mediated seduction practices. Sexualities, 18(5-6), 714-730.

Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of internet pornography addiction: A review and update. Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388–433.

Marlatt, G. A. (1990). Cue exposure and relapse prevention in the treatment of addictive behaviors. Addictive Behaviors, 15(4), 395–399.

Meshi, D., Elizarova, A., Bender, A., & Verdejo-Garcia, A. (2019). Excessive social media users demonstrate impaired decision making in the Iowa Gambling Task. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 8(1), 169–173.

Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The effects of sexually explicit material use on romantic relationship dynamics. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4), 700–707.

Moy, P., & Murphy, J. (2016). Problems and prospects in survey research. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 93(1), 16–37.

Mulholland, M. (2015). Walking a fine line: Young people negotiate pornified heterosex. Sexualities, 18(5–6), 731–749.

Nilan, P., Burgess, H., Hobbs, M., Threadgold, S., & Alexander, W. (2015). Youth, social media, and cyberbullying among Australian youth: “Sick friends”. Social Media+ Society, 1(2), 2056305115604848.

Palazzolo, F., & Bettman, C. (2020). Exploring the Lived Experience of Problematic Users of Internet Pornography: A Qualitative Study. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 27(1–2), 45–64.

Paul, P. (2005). Pornified: How Pornography is Damaging our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. Holt Paperbacks.’s_Funeral.pdf

Pontes, H. M., Andreassen, C. S., & Griffiths, M. D. (2016). Portuguese Validation of the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale: an Empirical Study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 14(6), 1062–1073.

Pornhub. (2019). The 2019 Year in Review.

Price, J., Patterson, R., Regnerus, M., & Walley, J. (2016). How much more XXX is generation X consuming? Evidence of changing attitudes and behaviors related to pornography since 1973. Journal of Sex Research, 53(1), 12–20.

Rackham, E. L. (2020). Understanding Relapse in Self-Perceived Problematic Pornography Users. Brigham Young University.

Ringrose, J. (2010). Sluts, whores, fat slags and Playboy bunnies: Teen girls’ negotiations of ‘sexy’on social networking sites and at school. Girls and education: Continuing concerns, new agendas, 170-182.

Rissel, C., Richters, J., de Visser, R. O., McKee, A., Yeung, A., & Caruana, T. (2017). A Profile of Pornography Users in Australia: Findings From the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 54(2), 227–240.

Rocha, D. V.-B. da. (2019). Quando o que tu consomes te consome: vício em pornografia existe? [When what you consume consumes you: is pornography addiction real?]. Diaphora, 8(2), 70–73.

Ross, M. W., Månsson, S. A., & Daneback, K. (2012). Prevalence, severity, and correlates of problematic sexual internet use in Swedish men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(2), 459–466.

Schacht, K. (2020). Undress or fail: Does Instagram favour posts that show more skin ? (pp. 1–7). Algorithm Watch.

Schuchardt, R. (2012). “Pornification of Everyday Life.” In M. Kosut (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Gender in Media (pp. 274–275). Sage Publications.

Sirianni, J. M., & Vishwanath, A. (2016). Problematic Online Pornography Use: A Media Attendance Perspective. Journal of Sex Research, 53(1), 21–34.

Sniewski, L., & Farvid, P. (2019). Abstinence or Acceptance? A Case Series of Men’s Experiences With an Intervention Addressing Self-Perceived Problematic Pornography Use. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 26(3–4), 191–210.

Sniewski, L., Farvid, P., & Carter, P. (2018). The assessment and treatment of adult heterosexual men with self-perceived problematic pornography use: A review. Addictive Behaviors, 77(June 2017), 217–224.

Sommer, C., Garbusow, M., Jünger, E., Pooseh, S., Bernhardt, N., Birkenstock, J., Schad, D. J., Jabs, B., Glöckler, T., Huys, Q. M., Heinz, A., Smolka, M. N., & Zimmermann, U. S. (2017). Strong seduction: Impulsivity and the impact of contextual cues on instrumental behavior in alcohol dependence. Translational Psychiatry, 7(8).

Statista. (2020). Number of social network users worldwide from 2017 to 2025 (in billions) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from

Suzin, M. (2016). “Igual a maioria dos viciados, eu disse que ia parar, mas não parei! A Pornografia no Cotidiano de Homens Heterossexuais: Uma Compulsão? ["Like most addicts, I said I would stop but I didn’t" Pornography in the everyday of heterosexual men: a compulsion?]. Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina.

Tong, C., Bovbjerg, D. H., & Erblich, J. (2007). Smoking-related videos for use in cue-induced craving paradigms. Addictive Behaviors, 32(12), 3034–3044.

Voon, V., Mole, T. B., Banca, P., Porter, L., Morris, L., Mitchell, S., Lapa, T. R., Karr, J., Harrison, N. A., Potenza, M. N., & Irvine, M. (2014). Neural correlates of sexual cue reactivity in individuals with and without compulsive sexual behaviours. PLoS ONE, 9(7).

Whiting, A., & Williams, D. R. (2013). Why people use social media: a uses and gratifications approach. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 16(4), 362–369.

Whittaker, E., & Kowalski, R. M. (2015). Cyberbullying via social media. Journal of School Violence, 14(1), 11-29.

Yang, T., Fisher, K. J., Li, F., & Danaher, B. G. (2006). Attitudes to smoking cessation and triggers to relapse among Chinese male smokers. BMC Public Health, 6(65), 65–83.

Young, K. S. (1999). Internet addiction: evaluation and treatment. Innovations in Clinical Practice, 17.

Zironi, I., Burattini, C., Aicardi, G., & Janak, P. H. (2006). Context is a trigger for relapse to alcohol. Behavioural Brain Research, 167(1), 150–155.