Pedophile Networks Exposed on Instagram, NCOSE Urges More Child Safety

NCOSE Press Statement logo

WASHINGTON, DC (June 9, 2023) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) said that Instagram must prioritize child safety by eradicating pedophile networks on the platform, the widespread existence of which was revealed by a Wall Street Journal investigation, and by implementing preventative safety by design.

“Instagram has enabled predators to reach children for far too long. NCOSE and our allies brought the existence of grooming and pedophile networks to Instagram’s attention several years ago and continues to do so–which is why Instagram is on the 2023 Dirty Dozen List of mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation. We are glad to see Instagram take some action to remove some pedophile networks, but the social media giant must continue to work proactively to prevent this from continuing to happen on a mass scale – without waiting for bad press,” said Haley McNamara, Vice President of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. 

NCOSE said Instagram must enact systemic improvements including, 1) Investing in technology to scan for and block sexually explicit content in posts and messages, 2) Prohibiting accounts and all content sexualizing minors including hashtags, emojis, comments on minors’ accounts, as well as on adult-managed accounts for children 12 and under, and 3) Removing or limiting high-risk features for 13 – 15-year-olds such as Vanish Mode and restrict all adults from seeing minors in “suggested user” or “discover people,” and more. See a full list of recommendations here.

Courtney’s House, Collective Shout, Defend Dignity, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation have jointly expressed a multitude of concerns regarding grooming, child sexual abuse materials, sex trafficking and other harms to Instagram. 

A 2022 study found that Instagram tied with Kik and Tumblr as the platform where minors reported the second highest rates of online sexual interactions with people they thought were adults.  

About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography. 

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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