Meta financial tool to remove children’s photos online

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has announced a new platform designed to help remove child pornography from the internet. Meta stated in a blog post that it has provided initial funding to create NCMEC’s ​​free “Take It Down” tool, which allows users to report anonymously without removing “photos” or pornographic, nudity, or pornographic videos” by minors found on participating platforms and block innocent content from being re-shared.

Facebook and Instagram have signed on to integrate the platform, as have justFans, Pornhub, and Yubo. Take It Down is designed for young children to self-report their own photos and videos; however, adults who appear in such content when they are under the age of 18 can also use the service to report and have it removed. Parents or other trusted adults can report on behalf of the child, too.

The FAQ for downloading it states that users must have a photo or video report on their device to use the service. This content is not submitted as part of the reporting process and, therefore, remains confidential. Instead, the content is used to generate a hash value, a unique digital fingerprint assigned to each image and video that can be provided to participating platforms to identify and remove it across websites. their website and application, while reducing the number of people who see the original content.

“We created this system because so many children are facing this difficult situation,” said Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of NCMEC. “Our hope is that kids get to know this service, and they’re excited that there are tools to help them download photos. NCMEC is here to help.”

The Take It Down service is similar to StopNCII, a service launched in 2021 that aims to prevent the sharing of inappropriate images to those over the age of 18. StopNCII also uses hash values ​​to identify and remove visible content on Facebook. , Instagram, TikTok, and Bumble.

Meta teased the new platform last November with the launch of new privacy features for Instagram and Facebook

In addition to announcing its partnership with NCMEC last November, Meta has released new privacy features for Instagram and Facebook that aim to protect minors using the platform. These include requiring youth to report accounts after blocking adult suspects, removing message buttons on youth Instagram accounts when adults see them with a history of blocking them, and implementing stricter default privacy settings for users Facebook under 16 (or 18 in some countries).

Other platforms participating in the program have taken steps to prevent and remove content that shows minors. Yubo, the French social networking app, has launched a range of AI and human-editing tools that can detect sexually explicit content showing minors, while Pornhub allows individuals to issue direct takedown requests for inappropriate or objectionable content posted on its forum.

In the past, all participating platforms have been criticized for failing to protect minors from sexual abuse

In the past, all five participating groups have been criticized for failing to protect children from sexual abuse. IN BBC news A report from 2021 found that children could easily bypass the fans’ age verification system, while 34 victims of pornography sued Pornhub that year, alleging that the site deliberately profited. from videos that show rape, child abuse, trafficking, and other unacceptable things. . Yubo – which has been described as “Tinder for teenagers” – has been used by attackers to contact and sexually assault minor users, and NCMEC estimated last year that the Meta program was exploiting the encryption of finally to the platform can hide 70 percent of the children. Sexual harassment is currently being identified and reported on its platform.

“When technology companies implement end-to-end encryption, without any safeguards built in to detect known child abuse material, the impact on children’s health is dire,” DeLaune told the Committee. Senate hearing earlier this month.

A press release for Take It Down mentions that participating platforms can use the provided hash value to identify and remove images in “public or private websites and applications,” but it is not not clear if this extends to end-to-end Meta usage. encryption across services like Messenger. We’ve reached out to Meta to confirm and will update this story when we hear back.

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