During some of the most turbulent weeks of the Iraq war nearly
one quarter of Internet users (24%) went online to view some of most graphic
war images that were deemed too gruesome or horrific for newspapers and
television to display. Further, of those who have seen the images, 28%
actively sought them out.
Overall, however, Americans are conflicted about the idea of these
disturbing images being available online. By a 49%-40% margin, Americans
disapprove of the posting of such images. A strong cultural divide emerges
between Internet users and non-users: Internet users approve of the images
being online by a small margin of 47% - 44%, while non-users disapprove by
an overwhelming 58% - 29% margin.
These are some of the results of a nationwide phone survey done between May
14 and June 17 - a period just following massive world coverage of the
murder and dismemberment of American contract workers in Iraq's strife-torn
town Fallujah, pictures taken at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, and the
capture and beheading of U.S. civilian Nicholas Berg.
The horrific nature of many of the war-related images that have appeared
online have left Internet users with a range of feelings. The data show that
millions of Internet users want to be able to view the graphic war images
and they see the Internet as an alternative source of news and information
from traditional media. But many who do venture outside the traditional and
familiar standards of the mainstream news organizations to look at the
images online end up feeling very uncomfortable.
Women are particularly opposed to the display of the images and are much
less likely than men to have viewed the images online.