Instagram, Google See Surge In Reports Of Online Child Abuse

Instagram, Google See Surge In Reports Of Online Child Abuse

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Instagram, Google See Surge In Reports Of Online Child Abuse

Most popular social media sites reported an increase in reports of online child abuse. (Representational)

Reports of child exploitation online increased at many of the biggest tech and social media firms over the last year, including Meta Platforms Inc.’s Instagram and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

TikTok, Inc.’s Twitch, Reddit Inc., and the chat apps Omegle and Discord Inc. also saw increases, according to a Tuesday report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The US child safety agency received over 32 million reports involving online enticement, child sexual abuse material and child sex trafficking in 2022 – some 2.7 million more than the year before.

While child sexual abuse material, or CSAM, was the largest category, there was an 82% increase in reports regarding online enticement. The center partially attributes the increase to financial “sextortion,” which involves targeting kids to share explicit photographs and blackmailing them for money.

“If you look at the increase in reports from from 2021 to 2022, it can mainly be attributed to the reports submitted from electronic services providers who were already submitting significant amount of reports to the CyberTipline in previous year,” a spokesperson for the center said. In 2022, the group sent 49,000 of the reports to law enforcement.


Meta and Google saw the highest increases.

Reports from Discord and Omegle more than quintupled. Google’s reports more than doubled to 2.1 million. TikTok, Twitch and Grindr also experienced sizable increases.

Other companies’ reports trended downward, including Meta’s Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as Dropbox. The leap between reports in 2020 and 2021 was more significant, at 35%.

Electronic service providers are legally required to report child sexual abuse material to the center when they become aware of it. Over the last several years, tech firms and social media companies have developed increasingly powerful tools to proactively identify and remove online abuse.

Spokespeople for Reddit, Grindr, Discord, Amazon Photo, Twitch, Meta and Snapchat cited advanced detection of online abuse when asked to comment on the increase in reports. Many also said they’re committed to removing the material.

Omegle, TikTok and Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A Microsoft spokesperson shared the company’s digital safety content report. Amazon said it only began collecting the data in June, 2021.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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