Facebook a hotbed of ‘child sexual abuse material’ with 20.3 million reports, far more than Pornhub

LLast year, the vast majority of reports of online child exploitation were found on Facebook, according to new data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTipline. The study identified more than 20.3 million reported incidents of child pornography or trafficking (classified as “child sexual abuse material”) on the social media site. In contrast, Google cited 546,704 incidents, Twitter 65,062, Snapchat 144095 and TikTok 22,692. Facebook accounted for almost 95% of the 21.7 million reports across all platforms.

Notably, MindGeek – the Canadian parent company of pornographic websites like Pornhub, RedTube and YouPorn – reported significantly less than Facebook: 13,229. Last year was the first year that MindGeek participated in the study. Their involvement coincided with a year-long campaign called #Traffickinghub, which aimed to shut down their branch, Pornhub, for its alleged role in perpetuating child trafficking. The campaign, which began in February 2020, touted itself as a “non-religious, non-partisan effort.” But it was organized by Exodus Cry, a fringe evangelical group that The Daily Beast has covered extensively, who have spent years lobbying to abolish the entire commercial sex industry.

The campaign was supported in part by increased interest in eliminating child sex trafficking which gained momentum over the summer under the hashtag #SaveTheChildren. Born out of an independent fundraising effort for the century-old nonprofit of the same name, the movement was quickly co-opted by QAnon adherents and conspiracy theorists, reinforcing baseless claims about a global cabal of Elite pedophiles who include everyone from Tom Hanks to Chrissy. Teigen.

Despite its dearth of accurate data, #SaveTheChildren has proven to be hugely popular – sparking summer protests across the country, many of which have planned and promoted on Facebook. In recent years, the platform has become a hub for right-wing conspiracy groups – a trend documented by @ FacebooksTop10, an automated Twitter account created by New York Times reporter Kevin Roose to follow his most popular pages every day. “What stands out, when you dig into the data,” Roose wrote in an August 2020 article on the account, “is how dominant Facebook’s right really is… The result is kind of a universe. parallel media to the left. Facebook center users may never meet, but it has been incredibly effective in shaping its own version of reality. “

The peak of concern appears in NCMEC data: Between 2019 and 2020, reports of child abuse at CyberTipline increased by 28%. While businesses still made up the majority of respondents, reports from the public “more than doubled”.

Statistics on child exploitation can be deeply misleading …

Statistics on child exploitation can be deeply misleading. More notoriously, the commonly cited data indicates that “more than 100,000 children in the United States are commercially exploited each year,” which was mentioned in a 2010 congressional testimony by the then president of NCMEC, is based on data that is decades old. It was based on two studies, both collected in the 1990s, which looked at runaways, abandoned children and children who were not housed. One of the studies, a Washington post fact-check found, has been compiled in such a way that some incidents can be counted two or three times. In dispute, former NCMEC chairman Ernie Allen referred to a third report that estimated an average of 1.7 million missing children reported each year. But his findings overlooked that 99.8% of those children were later recovered.

The CyberTipline works somewhat differently: the centralized system collects reports annually from the public and “ service providers” – a category that includes social media platforms, but also companies like eBay, Dropbox and Microsoft. The latter group constitutes the bulk of their data. Of the more than 21.7 million reports reviewed by CyberTipline in 2020, 21.4 million were from e-service providers.

But there are still points of confusion in the data. Pornhub and Facebook allege that the data may also include duplicates. On their website, Pornhub claims that the statistic of 13,229 “includes several thousand duplicates, with most reports being submitted multiple times with great caution.” According to them, the number of unique incidents is 4,171. Likewise, Facebook issued a statement claiming that 90% of reported incidents were “the same or visually similar to previously reported content.” If this is correct, that would bring their total to about 2,030,722 – still by far the highest number in the data pool.

The high number of reports, the study notes, may be “indicative of a variety of things,” including “how hard an ESP’s to identify and remove abusive content” – but also “a greater number of users on a platform ”. Facebook has several times more users than MindGeek. Data from October 2020 shows that the former has 1.79 billion daily active users, while the latter only cites 115 million.

“Eliminating illegal content and ridding the internet of child sexual abuse content is one of the most critical issues facing online platforms today, and it requires unwavering commitment and collective action. from all parties, ”a MindGeek spokesperson wrote in a statement to The Daily Beast. “MindGeek has voluntarily registered with NCMEC to automatically report every instance of CSAM that comes to our knowledge so that this information can be and reviewed by authorities around the world.”

The day before the study’s release, Facebook issued a press release titled “Prevent Child Exploitation on Our Apps,” announcing new measures to monitor child exploitation. The tools included informative pop-ups for related search terms, a policy to remove profiles associated with content flagged for children, and an “involve a child” option to report “Nudity and sexual activity” on their platforms.

“Using our apps to harm children is heinous and unacceptable,” the Facebook statement read. “Our leading-edge to combat child exploitation focus on preventing abuse, detecting and reporting content that violates our policies, and working with experts and authorities to keep children safe.”

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