2021 was worst year on record for online child sexual abuse

  • New research suggests internet grooming of children has surged during lockdown, making 2021 the worst year for online child sexual abuse on record.
  • The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reported that 252,000 URLs were reported and identified as containing images or videos of children being abused, and 182,000 images were flagged as self-generated material.
  • There was a threefold increase in self-generated online sexual abuse material featuring seven-to 10-year-olds.
  • The IWF states that the COVID-19 lockdowns could have caused the rise in cases.
  • Full story, here.

Child abuse images flagged on social media in 2021

  • Comparitech has released a report showing how much online content was flagged under “child nudity and sexual exploitation” on social media in the first three quarters of 2021.
  • Facebook flagged 55.6 million pieces of content, 20 million more than 2020’s overall total of 35.6 million.
  • Instagram removed 4.8 million and YouTube removed 8.99 million.
  • TikTok removed 56.5 million pieces of content.
  • Content reporting increased to 126 million in the first three quarters of 2021, compared with 107m in the whole of 2020.
  • Full story, here.

Snapchat expanding messaging features

  • Snapchat is introducing four new messaging features.
  • These include ‘Chat Replies’, allowing users to reply to individual messages in an ongoing group chat.
  • ‘Bitmoji Reactions’ will allow users to choose one of seven Bitmoji reactions to reply to messages.
  • Snapchat is also adding ‘Poll Stickers’ where users can create emoji-focused polls in Snaps and Stories that other users can reply to.
  • Snapchat’s video and audio calling interface will also be updated, where ‘Lenses’ can be used – which apply special effect filters to faces.
  • Users will also be able to preview which users are on a group call before joining.
  • Full story, here.

Twitter looks to extend keyword blocking and mute options

  • Twitter is looking to extend more control to users over content on the app by expanding its keyword blocking and mute tools beyond the main timeline.
  • This will provide users additional assurance and control with more comprehensive blocking to help them avoid topics and people.
  • The extended features will be applied to ‘Events’ first, preventing events from blocked accounts from appearing in other areas.
  • The feature will be expanded to the Explore, Spaces and other areas of Twitter.
  • Full story, here.

Investigation into online platforms finds ‘foul trove of racial hatred’

  • The Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR) uncovered racial hatred on Twitter, Facebook, and gaming platforms.
  • 300 profiles and usernames were identified on Twitter containing racist references, dating as far back as 2009 that don’t appear to have been automatically detected.
  • Dozens of offensive profiles were identified on Facebook with racial slurs, Nazi references, and names of mass shooters.
  • An analysis of gaming service Steam revealed more than 300,000 offensive profile names and more than 100 racist and far-right profiles were found on Fortnite.
  • CARR is calling for tougher regulation of online platforms.
  • Full story, here.

PSNI domestic violence figures show increase in incidents over festive period

  • PSNI officers were called to almost 2,000 domestic abuse incidents over the Christmas period.
  • This represents a 12% increase from 2020 according to police.
  • Officers attended 100 incidents on Christmas Day and 170 on New Year’s Day.
  • The PSNI continue to appeal to the members of the public not to ‘suffer in silence’ and report all incidents of abuse.
  • Full story, here.