Report: 2 out of 3 Child Porn Reports Related to Facebook Messenger

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A recent report from the New York Times outlines how child pornography has exploded across the Internet, including the startling fact that two out of every three reports of child sexual abuse material involve Facebook Messenger.

A recent report from the New York Times titled “The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?” outlines the growing problem of child pornography online and how it has continued to spread in the digital age. According to the report, 12 million of 18.4 million, or two out of every three reports of child pornography online, come from the Facebook Messenger app.

The Big Tech Masters of the Universe have attempted to find ways to deal with this growing issue but according to the Times, many are falling short:

But police records and emails, as well as interviews with nearly three dozen local, state and federal law enforcement officials, show that some tech companies still fall short. It can take weeks or months for them to respond to questions from the authorities, if they respond at all. Sometimes they respond only to say they have no records, even for reports they initiated.

And when tech companies cooperate fully, encryption and anonymization can create digital hiding places for perpetrators. Facebook announced in March plans to encrypt Messenger, which last year was responsible for nearly 12 million of the 18.4 million worldwide reports of child sexual abuse material, according to people familiar with the reports. Reports to the authorities typically contain more than one image, and last year encompassed the record 45 million photos and videos, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine reportedly regularly submitted reports that lacked essential information which made police investigations almost impossible, while Snapchat is reportedly often uncooperative simply telling investigators that the firm has no further information when questioned about content on its platform.

A Microsoft spokesperson told the Times that the firm has limited information relating to offenders using its search engine to search for child pornography, while Snapchat’s parent company Snap stated that it preserves data in compliance with the law.

The Times focuses on Facebook’s encryption plans for Messenger and other services, which could make the existing problem worse:

Data obtained through a public records request suggests Facebook’s plans to encrypt Messenger in the coming years will lead to vast numbers of images of child abuse going undetected. The data shows that WhatsApp, the company’s encrypted messaging app, submits only a small fraction of the reports Messenger does.

Facebook has long known about abusive images on its platforms, including a video of a man sexually assaulting a 6-year-old that went viral last year on Messenger. When Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, announced in March that Messenger would move to encryption, he acknowledged the risk it presented for “truly terrible things like child exploitation.”

Read the full report in the New York Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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