Child abuse material exploding across social media

Children as young as 3 or 4 years old are being sexually abused, sometimes tortured, and their screams and cries are posted online for the pleasure of sick adults. The problem is so horrifying that people have been slow to confront it–including those in the government who could approve funding to combat the problem.

No surprise, the problem is exploding.

Nearly 70 million images and videos were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Of this, Facebook reported nearly 60 million photos and videos, reflecting both the size of the platform and its aggressive approach to finding the material.

the explosion of child abuse material, in numbers

In 1998, there were about 3,000 reports of child sexual abuse imagery.

By 2019, 70 million images designated as child sexual abuse imagery were reported.

what is child sexual abuse material, a.k.a child pornography

United States federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (a person less than 18 years old). The NCMEC calls it Child Sexual Abuse Material because the term more accurately reflects the abuse and exploitation of children.

The origins of pedophilia remains largely unknown but current research points to biological development, probably in utero. Geek out on pedophilia here.

In order to become more “privacy-focused,” Facebook plans to begin end-to-end encryption on Messenger. This encryption would make the content of messages inaccessible to third parties, including law enforcement, making efforts to stop online child sexual abuse imagery much more difficult.

Should Facebook use encryption? Check out the debate here.

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