International Advocates from 31 Countries Call Out Reddit for Rampant Image-based Sexual Abuse 

For too long, Reddit has allowed abuse and exploitation to flourish on its platform. 

This week, NCOSE and 319 other international anti-sexual exploitation and violence experts from 31 countries wrote a joint letter to demand that Reddit stop facilitating image-based Sexual Abuse. 

Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) is the sexual violation of a person committed through the abuse or weaponization of any image of the person depicted. It includes, but is not limited to, the creation, theft, extortion, threatened or actual distribution, or any use of sexually explicit or sexualized materials without the meaningful consent of the person/s depicted and/or for purposes of sexual exploitation.  

Reddit’s PR “Progress” Fails to Make Meaningful Change

Reddit has recently taken a victory lap in the media for improving its response to non-consensually shared explicit images. 

In 2022 it published an updated policy against this kind of behavior, and recently spoke about hashing initiatives to remove reported cases of IBSA. 

While these are steps forward, Reddit’s failure to enact meaningful age and consent verification practices or to overhaul ineffective moderation strategies continues to allow such exploitive content to flourish on its platform.  

On April 13th, 2023, within 3 seconds of searching NCOSE researchers were able to find posts and threads with high indicators of adult image based sexual abuse, such as “leaked” content, trading of encrypted links indicating additional trading/selling of IBSA, and other posts violating Reddit’s policies such as “nip slips.” 

Reddit has no meaningful age or consent verification for sexually explicit or suggestive content. History has shown that exploitation inevitably proliferates whenever platforms allow explicit content but fail to enforce meaningful age/consent verification for depicted persons. For example, many pornography platforms have been caught hosting recorded rape, non-consensually shared materials, and even cases of women being sex trafficked into pornography production such as in the GirlsDoPorn case in the United States, and similar cases in France, the Czech Republic, and more.  

And so, on Reddit too, proof abounds of posts and entire subreddits with high markers for non-consensual image trading or selling. 

@endexploitation #stitch with @davidjustinn #greenscreen Reddit is a hub for content that promotes and perpetuates violence against women—including image-based s*xual abuse material. There have been entire threads dedicated to sharing nudes without consent. And while the website has updated policies and published memos addressing violence against women, those actions have done virtually nothing to address the problem. This is why Reddit was named to NCOSE’s 2022 #DirtyDozenList. The 2023 #DirtyDozen will be released on May 2nd. Sign up to be one of the first to know—link in bio. #endexploitation #exploitationawareness #exploitation #endviolenceagainstwomen #violenceagainstwomenandgirls #violenceagainstwomenneedstostop #reddit ♬ Spooky, quiet, scary atmosphere piano songs – Skittlegirl Sound

Reddit’s Long History of Hosting Image-based Sexual Abuse

As recently detailed by BBC journalists, Reddit is host to thousands of explicit images that have been shared without consent – sometimes called “revenge pornography” or “non-consensual explicit images.” (We call this phenomenon image-based sexual abuse.) 

Vice also reported in the past about sex trafficking victims whose videos continued to circulate on Reddit. Vice reported: “After a civil court judge ruled that the owners of Girls Do Porn were guilty of coercing 22 women into having sex on camera, Reddit still hosted communities that doxed the real names of women in the videos and reposted non-consensual imagery from Girls Do Porn.” 

When explicit imagery is shared or distributed without consent, it causes serious harm. 

Survivors of IBSA have shared their stories , saying that having their explicit images shared without their consent has made them feel “completely, completely broken.” They have described their experiences as “life-ruining,” “hell on earth,” and “a nightmare . . . which destroyed everything.” 

The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative conducted an online survey regarding non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit photos in 2017. The survey found that compared to people without IBSA victimization, victims had “significantly worse mental health outcomes and higher levels of physiological problems.” The risk of suicide is also a very real issue for victims and there are many tragic stories of young people taking their own lives as a result of this type of online abuse. An informal survey showed that 51% of responding victims reported having contemplated suicide as a result of their IBSA experience. 

The international joint letter requests that Reddit take the following actions:

  • Adopt strong policies against hardcore pornography and sexually explicit content, due to the inability for Reddit to sufficiently verify the age or consent of people depicted in such content,  
  • Institute proactive moderation and filtering solutions to enforce such a policy,  
  • Work with NCOSE and survivors to implement survivor-centered practices and reporting mechanisms specific to image-based sexual abuse (for example, immediate removal across the platform when content is reported),  
  • Ban users who upload sexually explicit material, especially if the material depicts child sexual abuse material or non-consensually shared explicit images, and prevent them from creating another account,  
  • Create prominent, simple, and lock-able caregiver controls and block the ability for adults to message minors. 

It’s time for passionate advocates against sexual exploitation to demand that Reddit take meaningful action against IBSA. By collectively showing Reddit that we care about this issue, we can incentivize them to make their platform safe. 

You can help by taking the following actions:

1. Complete this easy-to-use Advocacy Action. The Advocacy Action embedded below allows you to quickly send an email directly to Reddit’s corporate executives about exploitation on its platform. 


2. Share this blog. More people need to be aware of the rampant exploitation on Reddit. 

To learn more about NCOSE’s campaign to end IBSA on Reddit, click here.  

3. Stay tuned for the 2023 Dirty Dozen List. On May 2nd 2023 the new annual Dirty Dozen List that names 12 mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation and abuse will be announced. Reddit was on the 2022 Dirty Dozen List—sign up here to find out which corporations and institutions make the 2023 List, and to call on them to change as well!

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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