“When I look at a cooking show I know not only my own eating habits but I know everybody’s eating habits,” says Marty Klein, a well-known sex therapist in Palo Alto. “I have ways of calibrating what I see on the mass media when it comes to food. When it comes to sex, most people never ever ever get to watch one other person having sex.” But with digital pornography, young people discover a trove of tantalizing content that’s been utterly decontextualized from any real person’s sexual experience. “Porn is not meant to be sex education,” he says. But for many young people, it is—and that’s especially problematic if the porn is violent.

Just as extremism on social-media platforms often spills over into the physical world, dreadful sex ed can lead to dreadful early sexual experiences. “In my own study that I did years ago, there were girls who said because their boyfriend had seen something in pornography they were then forced or coerced to do that thing,” Rothman said. “And they were unhappy about it.” Porn critics like Mary Anne Layden, a psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania, say this can have two parallel effects: More sexual violence for some, and a withdrawal from sexual experiences by others.

Everybody I spoke to noted that porn can offer vulnerable consumers an infinite buffet of false, decontextualized, and potentially harmful ideas about the world. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s precisely the claim against the dangers of extremist and falsely conspiratorial content on today’s social media platforms.