There is also Rule 35 which dictates that if there aren’t already pornographic depictions of something, there eventually will be.
Where did Rule 34 come from?
Like many online trends, phenomena, and themes, attempting to ascertain the source of an online practice will always be shrouded in uncertainty. Online communities consider Rule 34 to have begun with an online comic book published in 2003 following the writer’s disgust at finding his favourite childhood cartoon characters depicted in pornographic fan art.
According to Dictionary.com, the rules are a series of in-jokes, guidelines, and references related to internet culture as it was in the early 2000s.
Since then, Rule 34 has appeared in numerous online chatrooms, message boards, and forums as well as being a common hashtag attached to pornographic fan art.
What are the Risks to Children and Young People?
Pornographic depictions of cartoon characters can be extreme and include violent, sexualised, or compromising themes. These images would likely be distressing, particularly for younger children, who may see characters they admire or like.
Make sure children and young people who have been exposed to Rule 34 influenced ‘fan art’ know that this is not real and does not change the character they know and love.
Talking to young people about harmful content online can be daunting, especially when talking about something you haven’t necessarily seen or experienced yourself. However, talking is really important and when you know or suspect the issue might be relevant to a young person in your care it is vital to sensitively address the issue.
We’ve included some tips below to help you plan your conversation.