‘Stop Facebook from creating a hiding place for child abuse’

Social media giant Facebook ‘must be stopped’ from creating hiding places for child abuse, says the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). 

Data obtained from responses to a Freedom of Information request by 32 police forces in the United Kingdom showed that Facebook and its other main apps, Instagram and WhatsApp, were used in child abuse image and online child sexual offences in 2018 – an average of 11 times a day.

And the NSPCC warns that child sexual abuse will go undetected if Facebook continues with its plans to encrypt messaging on Facebook and Instagram – which it also owns – without first putting clear safeguards in place.

Police forces ‘left working in the dark’

It believes that police forces will be ‘left working in the dark’ because the social media platform will no longer be able to see and report illegal content to law enforcement. In addition, it believes that more serious child abuse will be more likely to happen on Facebook-owned apps as abusers won’t have to move their victims onto other encrypted apps in order to groom them.

The NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign calls on the new UK government to impose tough regulations on big tech firms, and it has an open letter to Facebook which supporters can sign, demanding that it guarantees that children’s safety won’t be compromised.

‘Facebook is..giving offenders a place to hide’

Andy Burrows, Head of Child Safety Online Policy for the NSPCC, said: “Instead of working to protect children and make the online world they live in safer, Facebook is actively choosing to give offenders a place to hide in the shadows and risks making itself a one-stop grooming shop.

“For far too long Facebook’s mantra has been to move fast and break things but these figures provide a clear snapshot of the thousands of child sex crimes that could go undetected if they push ahead with their plans unchecked.

‘If Facebook fails to guarantee encryption won’t be detrimental to children’s safety, the next Government must make clear they will face tough consequences from day one for breaching their duty of care.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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