Social media. It’s grown to be a staple in the realm of our modern society’s communication and self-expression, but it’s also a major hub for all types of dark content—including pornography and child exploitation.

With huge amounts of users comes huge amounts of responsibility, and it looks like no-one site has developed a porn-proof filtering system or thorough enough moderation team.

Here, we take a look at some of the most popular platforms and their reported struggles to keep hardcore content from plaguing users everywhere. We’ve ranked the sites from most to least users, using Smart Insights’ data on how many people are on each platform. Knowing what you’re dealing with as a user of any of these sites can be helpful when looking for content to report, block, and flag.

Facebook – 2 billion active users

According to the New York Post, child porn is cropping up on Facebook again. Using Facebook’s policing tools, the BBC had attempted to report 100 sexualized images of children, and found that Facebook eventually removed just 18 of them.

The BBC report also said Facebook took no action when it was notified that five convicted pedophiles had active Facebook accounts, explicitly violating the company’s rules.

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And as part of a slow but steady file leak, the Guardian has revealed that Facebook has faced at least one recent surge in revenge porn and sexual extortion cases—54,000 potential cases just in January of last year. The company ended up disabling over 14,000 accounts involved in these disputes, 33 of which involved children. It’s not clear how this compares to other periods (Facebook doesn’t divulge specific figures), but that’s no small amount.

In addition, Facebook escalated 2,450 cases of potential sextortion—which it defines as attempts to extort money, or other imagery, from an individual. This led to a total of 14,130 accounts being disabled. Sixteen cases were taken on by Facebook’s internal investigations teams.

And those are just the highlights when it comes to the porn problems on this world’s most massive social site.

Instagram – 800 million active users

While there are no reported hard numbers to be found on the amount of porn on this hugely popular platform, our messages from Fighters speak for themselves. In the last two months, we’ve received countless pleas from Fighters who have seen extremely graphic pornographic content on Instagram, specifically on their “Discover” page, and have reported it—many times, without action being taken against the account.

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At one point, one of the popular hashtags associated with our Instagram page, @fightthenewdrug, was bombarded for an extended period of time with pornographic videos (don’t worry, it’s not anymore). This goes to show that pornbots and spammers will use any means necessary to get their explicit content embedded into popular hashtags and trending topics, and on an entirely photo and video-based platform with users as young as 13, that is a HUGE issue.

While Instagram prides itself on banning specific hashtags associated with pornographic content, it has a long way to go before it can be considered totally appropriate and safe for users.

Tumblr – 373 million active users

Tumblr has over 329.6 million blogs and 144 billion posts. In 2012, Tumblr founder David Carp said only 2-4% of the site’s traffic was porn-related, but a new study suggests that number has grown significantly.

In a study of Tumblr’s 200,000 most popular domains by web analytics firm SimilarGroup, more than 10% of these pages—22,775, to be specific—contain adult material, reports the Daily Dot. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that more than 22% of the traffic Tumblr receives from other sites is going straight to one of these porn sites. Yikes.

RelatedStudy Shows Nearly Half Of Tumblr Users See Porn While On Platform

The researchers took a look at 130 million Tumblr users and 7 billion links posted on the social network and discovered that adult content has become so pervasive on Tumblr that more than 1 in 4 people on the site will end up seeing porn without even looking for it. At least 22% of the site’s users follow, like, or reblog content from porn accounts, which translates to another 28% of people on Tumblr unintentionally being exposed to porn, according to the study.

And according to a few Fighters, Tumblr staff doesn’t seem to care enough to promptly remove this content (for whatever reasons).

Twitter – 330 million active users

And over on the “wild west of the internet,” the dark corners of Twitter have become points of exchange between child pornographers and their customers. In fact, recent estimates indicate that at least 14,000 active accounts are involved in the creation and distribution of child porn. BBC reported that the victims of these tweets are as young as 5 years old, and all are below the age of 15.

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With an estimated 10 million “pornbots” Twitter accounts dedicated to posting all types of pornographic content, that means there are more pictures of porn than of pets, people, or products. And what’s worse? Right now, Twitter won’t automatically remove abusive users or these pornbots, only block them from users who report them, because removing porn accounts could easily remove 1% to 2% of active users—and that looks bad for business.

Snapchat – 150 million active users

With more than 100 million daily active users, Snapchat has become the go-to social media app for millennials. Headed by a 26-year-old CEO, the app is constantly evolving and creating new and engaging features that allow people to connect. Not long ago, Snapchat released a ‘featured stories’ section, that includes curated content from online publications such as VICE, Cosmopolitan, The Daily Mail, MTV, and other mainstream digital news sources. What started as interesting news to be watched and read on Snapchat, has quickly devolved into the vast majority of these featured stories posting sex tips and topless celebrities.

Related#NoThanksSnapchat: Let Users Opt Out Of Sexually Explicit Featured Stories

And while it was recently announced that Snapchat will be updating its policies on the content posted by publishers on its Featured section, we’ve had many Fighters let us know that their “clean up” has been more disappointing than anything. Basically, the new rules more explicitly restricted publishers from posting questionable pictures on featured stories that do not have news or editorial value, reports the New York Times, and yet they keep appearing.

At least now, if you hold down the inappropriate story in the Featured section, you can hide the content you can’t see…but it’s an issue that the content is there at all. Not cool, Snapchat.

Pinterest – 150 million active users

Pinterest’s section on Pin Etiquette states, “We do not allow nudity or hateful content.” Period. Furthermore, Pinterest’s terms of service prohibit “any content that…is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive.” Pinterest community manager Enid Hwang elaborates, “Photographic images that depict full-frontal nudity, fully exposed breasts and/or buttocks are not allowed on Pinterest.” That pretty much covers all the bases, right?

Not exactly. We’ve been getting messages from Fighters that say they’ve found blatantly hardcore pornographic content in their regular feeds…and this issue seems to be even worse if they’ve marked their gender as “male” on the site, from what we’ve seen. And, like Instagram, there are no hard numbers to be found for how many explicit posts there actually are on the site, but it’s on our radar as a problematic platform for questionable content.

What do students say?

More needs to be done to safeguard students from sexual content and hurtful messages, a survey finds, as reported on Tes.

Four-in-five students do not think that social media companies are doing enough to protect them from pornography, bullying and self-harm, new research shows. Of the 1,696 junior high students surveyed, 81% said that social media sites needed to do more to protect young users from explicit or harmful content.

The students rated websites ASKfm (an anonymous question-asking site), Omegle (a free chat website), IMVU (an animated chat website) and Facebook as being the most risky.

One 16-year-old girl said of ASKfm: “It had no strict controls, which led to lots of hurtful messages being spread about people, which I believe contributed to people self-harming or just feeling negative about themselves.”

A 15-year-old also said of the same website: “I hate the fact that someone can say things to you, but not show their name.”

‘A few sketchy experiences’

And an 18-year-old user of avatar-based community website IMVU said: “Lots of adults are sexual through their characters—talking about sex and also drugs. This can be true even if they know you’re very young… I had a few sketchy experiences and you never know when this could carry over into offline life.”

Despite speaking about the risks of these websites, 87% of students surveyed said that they knew how to keep themselves safe online.

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But children’s charity NSPCC, which commissioned the survey along with mobile-phone company O2, encouraged parents and teachers to research the more obscure apps that kids might be using.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “Social media is a great way for young people to stay in touch with their friends. But our research clearly shows that children do not feel that they are shielded from upsetting, dangerous and adult content.”

Why This Matters

These data show us just how much porn has taken over the internet and our online social experiences, especially for teens. It’s no secret that porn is everywhere, and now it seems to have taken hold of our Discovery pages on Instagram, our feeds on Facebook and Twitter, and our Featured stories on Snapchat. Not cool.

We fight because we believe society can do better than constantly fueling the demand for this content, and we believe social media sites can do better than to let that happen. How can we fight back? It seems small, but keep reporting, keep blocking, and keep these sites accountable for their content. Together, our voices are loud.

What YOU Can Do

We have stay on top of stopping the demand for pornographic content on social media, and reporting any content we come across. SHARE this post and raise awareness on this huge issue!

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