#WakeUpInstagram graphic
November 20, 2019

Joint International Campaign Launched to #WakeUpInstagram to Sexual Exploitation on its Platform

Today three anti-sexual exploitation organizations from three different countries—the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (United States), Collective Shout (Australia), and Defend Dignity (Canada)—launched a #WakeUpInstagram campaign to call out rampant sex trafficking, child sexual abuse grooming, as well as adult fetishization of young girls on Instagram.

“Earlier this year, YouTube came under public scrutiny for its facilitation of pedophile comments and networking in the comment sections of videos featuring young children—but what we’re seeing on Instagram now is even worse. It’s time to #WakeUpInstagram, and stop a predator’s paradise from flourishing. Instagram needs to prioritize the safety of minors, not the accessibility of minors to adults, on its platform,” said Haley Halverson, Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach, National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

“Since July, we have collected hundreds of samples of sexual, predatory comments on underage girls’ Instagram posts. What we’ve found shows that sexualisation and harassment of underage girls on Instagram is rampant. By giving adults unfettered access to children and facilitating the transmission of sexual comments—including requests for sexual content—from adults to children, Instagram is complicit in the harm of underage girls. If technology and social media companies are going to allow minors on their platform in any capacity, then they must provide adequate measures to keep children safe from sexual predators,” said Lyn Kennedy, Collective Shout campaigner.

“In Canada, social media is one of the most common places for pimps and sex traffickers to lure and recruit victims for sexual exploitation, particularly children.  Instagram’s picture-based platform makes it a haven for predators to groom and sexually exploit minors.  Instagram is complicit in these crimes if it does not improve its current policies to better protect children. In partnership with NCOSE and Collective Shout, Defend Dignity calls on Instagram to make it their top corporate priority to protect minors from the risks of being sexually exploited while using their social media platform,” said Glendyne Gerrard, Director of Defend Dignity.

Join our international campaign to call on Instagram to make three vital policy improvements:

1) Instagram must change its settings so that strangers cannot direct message minors.

2) Instagram must fix its algorithm to proactively remove sexualizing or sexually graphic comments on minor’s photos.

3) Instagram must update its reporting system so that if someone is reporting a sexual comment on a minor’s post it can be reported as such. The “harassment/bullying” selection does not capture the fact that these comments come from adults who are grooming/sexualizing/harassing a child.

You can take action in three important ways:

First, you can learn more and see censored screenshots and videos of proof here.

Second, you can post on social media using #WakeUpInstagram and #InstaPimpsKids. Remember to tag @Instagram in your post as well, so you can get their attention! Here are some sample tweets you could consider posting:

It's time to #WakeUpInstagram! We need to tell Instagram to fix safety features to stop sex trafficking, child abuse, and pedophile-like comments on minors' photos! #InstaPimpsKids @Instagram Click To Tweet Minors whose @Instagram accounts are set to private can still receive unsolicited direct messages from strangers, which has led to several instances of sex trafficking and child sexual abuse – this must be fixed! #WakeUpInstagram… Click To Tweet

Third, you can email Instagram executives here. Fill out the short form and you can send an email directly to Instagram, demanding that they do better to protect minors!

Haley McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, Washington Examiner, Townhall.com, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

Further Reading