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Tech Companies Reported Over 45 Million Child Porn Images & Videos on Their Platforms Last Year

By October 10, 2019 No Comments
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Porn, in some form, has existed for as long as humans have. While it has drastically evolved over time to be what it is today—from caveman drawings to free and accessible hardcore HD videos available 24/7 online—the difference that seems to have had the biggest effect on culture-at-large is access.

We have the rapid improvement of technology, namely the internet and all devices that supply us with access to the internet, to thank for that. Although the internet definitely has major upsides, it also has a very dark side.

A survey of the world’s largest porn site exhibited that the site had a daily average of 92 million unique visitors in 2018. In other words, because of technological improvements, one porn site was accessed over 33.5 billion times in one year by hundreds of millions of individuals.

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While we will make no claims regarding the ages of the performers in the videos on the previously mentioned porn site, the fact of the matter is that not all porn videos on the internet include performers who can legally consent to sex acts—in other words, they’re not 18 yet.

When that’s the case, the images are a form of child exploitation, more commonly known as “child porn.”

Defined as “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age),” violations of child porn lead to severe statutory penalties with steep fines and up to life imprisonment. In other words, this is really serious stuff.

Sadly, those penalties don’t seem to be doing enough to deter the continual creation and distribution of new and old content online. Here’s why:

1. In 2018, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused.

There were over 3,000 reports of child porn in 1998. Ten years later, the number of reports lept to 100,000. In 2014, there were more than 1 million reports, the first time that number had ever been surpassed. And, last year, there were 18.4 million reports—that’s one-third of the total ever reported in history.

If 2018 alone means 45 million online photos and videos, what does that mean for 1998 to 2017? And what does that mean for 2019 and beyond? These numbers will keep climbing if something doesn’t change.

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2. Child porn is being circulated and recirculated on websites and apps we use daily.

Child porn isn’t just found on the hidden internet hotbed of criminal activity known as the “dark web.” It’s also being found in places like WhatsApp, Microsoft’s Bing search engine, the storage service Dropbox, and, even Facebook. In fact, 12 million of the 18.4 million worldwide reports of child porn actually came from Facebook messenger users alone. Wow.

Law enforcement is seeing more and more online groups devote themselves to sharing images of younger children and more extreme forms of abuse. Sadly, that’s not much of a surprise when you take into account even mainstream adult porn’s abilities to desensitize and to lessen empathy in its consumers.

3. In 2018, the United States Department of Homeland Security only spent 60% of the funds it was originally allocated to fight child porn.

Every year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) receives a sum of about $30 million from Congress to fund state and local law enforcement efforts. About half of that amount, $15 million, is used to fund its cybercrimes units—the law enforcement units whose job is to make sure those 45 million photos and videos online are never able to be uploaded.

However, this past year, the DHS used $6 million of the $15 million their cybercrimes units received for other purposes.

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4. In 80% of child sexual abuse arrests, the offender also possessed child porn.

While watching “teen porn” videos may not seem like a big deal to some, research clearly exhibits that it is. Porn has the ability to alter the consumer’s brain and sexual tastes, and that becomes an even bigger deal when the consumer is addicted to child porn, or even images of seemingly underage kids.

Mental health experts say that child porn addicts have a tendency to progress their watching behaviors to younger and younger children, including seeking out more sadistic and masochistic images.

5. Up to 27% of 12 to 17-year-olds have been in possession of child porn.

No, we’re not making this stuff up. A 2018 study showed that 27% of 12 to 17-year-olds receive sexts, and a number of which come from other children who are younger than 18.

Just take it from the 16-year-old Maryland girl who was convicted of child porn charges in a juvenile court for taking a video of herself performing oral sex on a 16-year-old male, and distributing that video to two of her friends. And cases like these will only become more common unless education about sexting risks is made more accessible.

6. The cost of being sex trafficked as a child is a “lifetime cost.”

“Annie,” as we’ll call her, is the head of an Illinois-based anti-sex trafficking nonprofit; she has seen firsthand the long and intense process of healing necessary after rescue from being a child sex slave.

After survivors shared their heart-wrenching personal tales of having been abused, The New York Times expressed similar sentiments to Annie. “Adults, now years removed from their [child] abuse still liv[e] in fear of being recognized from photos and videos on the internet.”

One woman who, at age 11, was filmed being sexually assaulted by her father put it this way: “You’re just trying to feel O.K. and not let something like this define your whole life. But the thing with the pictures is—that’s the thing that keeps this alive.”

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Report child porn if you or someone you know sees it

What it comes down to is this: when you, or someone you know, takes action after stumbling across child porn, that action has the potential to save one or more minors and bring those minors’ exploiters to justice.

Together, if we keep raising our voices about child exploitation imagery online and its accessibility, the tides will change. But it’ll take all of us. Are you in?

To report an incident involving the possession, distribution, receipt, or production of child pornography, file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s website at www.cybertipline.com, or call 1-800-843-5678.

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