Part of the Problem: EBSCO Research Databases

EBSCO Information Services is on the Dirty Dozen Watchlist. 



EBSCO Information Services offers online library resources to public and private schools (K-12), colleges and universities, public libraries, and more. In its advertising for schools, it promises “fast access to curriculum-appropriate content.” However, its Explora, Science Reference Center, Literary Reference Center, and other products, sometimes provide easy access to hardcore pornography sites and extremely graphic sexual content.

Notable Progress:

We want to acknowledge that EBSCO has made significant progress over the last two years, particularly in educational databases meant for elementary students and also in those meant for middle school students. Just two years ago basic searches for innocent search terms like “7th grade biology” or “respiration” would yield results with pornographic images or explicit instructions on risky sex acts. Now, searches for even pornographic terms often yield no result in these databases. We are grateful that EBSCO took on constructive criticism from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, and others, to address those problems.

Continued Problems:

Unfortunately, there is still sexually explicit content on EBSCO databases marketed to schools as safe and curriculum appropriate.

We also remain concerned that EBSCO places most of the responsibility for removing such content on school and library administrators, yet EBSCO doesn’t adequately warn these administrators that the content is available so easily on its systems.

Some of this material has direct links to hardcore pornography websites staying within the EBSCO database bypassing school filters. The presence of such explicit material in a platform meant for children and teenagers to use while at school or for homework, sends a particularly damaging message to young people that the behavior featured (examples include: group or hook-up sex, incest, “sugar dating” and prostitution in order to pay for college) is normal and expected adult behavior.


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