The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has teamed up with the NSPCC's Childline to provide a new tool for under 18s that enables them to report explicit content of themselves that has either already been shared on the web or they are worried it could be.
The service aims to help children who have either been groomed into sending naked images or videos of themselves or who have otherwise had explicit content shared without permission. This is a growing problem - the IWF received over 38,000 reports of self-generated images of children in just the first three months of 2021, more than double a year earlier.
It is incredibly difficult to fully delete an image or other content once it has been shared; the moment a child sends an image of themselves they have lost control of it. The impact can be devastating and it is vital children know where to turn if they find themselves in this situation.
The IWF has already been working hard to remove explicit online content showing children and this new tool empowers children to do something should they find themselves worrying about content they have shared. If the image or video is already out there, the child can share the URL and the charity will review the content before working to have it removed if it breaks the law. The IWF can also 'hash' content they are sent to create a digital fingerprint which aids identification and removal should the material sent to them by a child ever appear on the web. It is the first time the IWF has been able to act on content sent to them before it appears online as well as responding to existing URLs with the offending material.
Children can report content anonymously if they wish, their age will be verified and Childline will provide support and safeguarding as appropriate. Anyone making a report should expect feedback within one working day. Sounds like an awesome service.
The head of the IWF, Susie Hargreaves, said the new tool "will give young people the power, and the confidence, to reclaim these images and make sure they do not fall into the wrong hands online".
"Once those images are out there, it can be an incredibly lonely place for victims, and it can seem hopeless," she said. "It can also be frightening, not knowing who may have access to these images."
The tool is called 'Report Remove' and can be found here:
Please share this information - you never know who might be secretly suffering.