Written by 12:14 World

No, a Remote Amazon Tribe Did Not Get Addicted to Porn

In April, I hiked more than 50 miles through the Amazon rainforest to visit the remote villages of the Marubo people. The 2,000-member tribe had recently received high-speed internet, and I wanted to understand how it had affected their lives.

During a weeklong visit, I saw how they used the internet to communicate between villages, chat with faraway loved ones and call for help in emergencies. Many Marubo also told me they were deeply concerned that the connection with the outside world would upend their culture, which they had preserved for generations by living deep in the forest. Some elders complained of teenagers glued to phones, group chats full of gossip and minors who watched pornography.

As a result, the story we published June 2 was in part about the Marubo people’s introduction to the ills of the internet.

But after publication, that angle took on a whole different dimension.

Over the past week, more than 100 websites around the world have published headlines that falsely claim the Marubo have become addicted to porn. Alongside those headlines, the sites published images of the Marubo people in their villages.

The New York Post was among the first, saying last week that the Marubo people was “hooked on porn.” Dozens quickly followed that take. TMZ’s headline was perhaps the most blunt: “TRIBE’S STARLINK HOOKUP RESULTS IN PORN ADDICTION!!!”

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Last modified: 12 June 2024
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