Facebook flagged 55.6m child abuse images in 2021

Facebook, Social Media

Pro-consumer website Comparitech has today released its updated report The rising tide of child abuse on social media.

It shows how much content flagged under “child nudity and sexual exploitation” social media platforms reported in the first three quarters of 2021, compared with previous years.

Among the key findings are:

  • Facebook flagged a staggering 55.6 million pieces of content under “child nudity and sexual exploitation”–20 million more than 2020’s overall total of 35.6 million
  • Instagram had 5m pieces of content or accounts removed in the first three quarters of 2021
  • TikTok rivalled Facebook for the most content removed with 56m
  • Overall, reporting of content was up 19m over 2020, with 126m reported in the first three quarters of 2021 compared with 107m in the whole of 2020

“Often, child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is associated with more shady corners of the internet, but the problem isn’t limited to private groups or anonymous platforms. Thousands of images and posts containing child abuse, exploitation, and nudity are removed by the biggest names in social media every day,” said the report’s author and Comparitech’s privacy advocate, Paul Bischoff.

This report comes as the EU announces plans to make tech giants adhere to more formal rules, rather than the previously voluntary agreements, when it comes to detecting, reporting and removing child sexual abuse from its platforms.

“As of now, it’s up to social media platforms and messaging services whether or not they report or follow up on offences,” said Brian Higgins, security specialist at Comparitech. “With the first three months of 2021 already significantly topping previous years for exploitative content, it demonstrates a very large, potentially out of control problem.

“And because these companies aren’t mandated to notify or send data to prosecutors or police in the country an offender originates from, it places an enormous amount of pressure on not-for-profit organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation or NCMEC, who typically deal with these cases and are at risk of being severely under-resourced to deal with the scale of the problem.”

To read Comparitech’s full analysis, click here: https://www.comparitech.com/blog/vpn-privacy/child-abuse-online-statistics/ 

Chris Price
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