Reddit Takes One Step Forward, One Step Back

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Reddit—a massively popular social media platform that’s been called the “front page of the Internet”—has been a target of NCOSE advocacy for many years. We’ve long been pressing on them to combat the child sexual exploitation and image-based sexual abuse that flourishes on their platform, and have named them to the annual Dirty Dozen List for three years in a row.

Recently, Reddit has rolled out some policy updates on child safety and “non-consensual intimate media” (the less apt term for image-based sexual abuse)—some of which are positives and some of which are negative. It’s one step forward and one step back with this platform!

Read on for a full analysis of these policy changes and what they entail.

Reddit Bans Child Sexualization, But Evidence of Prohibited Content Still Prevalent

When NCOSE named Reddit to the 2023 Dirty Dozen List, we wrote them a letter detailing our concerns and providing evidence of harmful content our researchers found on the platform. One of the sections of this letter dealt with the sexualization of children. Now, Reddit has updated their child safety policy to more specifically prohibit various types of content and activities sexualizing children!

These updates include prohibiting comments, pictures, cartoon images (anime, etc.), and poses that sexualize minors, as well as predatory or inappropriate behaviors such as “sexual role-play where an adult might assume the role of a minor.” Additionally, “using Reddit to facilitate inappropriate interactions with minors on other platforms, websites or via electronic devices is also prohibited.”

NCOSE thanks Reddit for making these positive policy changes. Should they be well enforced, they would be extremely powerful in better protecting children on Reddit.

Unfortunately, so far, we are not seeing evidence of strong enforcementNCOSE researchers analyzed the top 100 pornography subreddits (what is tagged on Reddit as “NSFW”) and found numerous examples of child sexualization and/or possible indicators of child sexual abuse material—including titles like “xsmallgirls” and references to flat-chestedness.

Take Action! Call on Reddit to Remove and Prevent Sexual Exploitation!

Reddit’s Policies on AI-generated Pornography Overlook Certain Forms of Abuse

Standing in sharp contrast to Reddit’s improved child safety policies is a disappointing update to the company’s policies on “non-consensual intimate media” (i.e. image-based sexual abuse). Reddit clarified that AI-generated pornography that does not depict a real, identifiable individual is not banned under this policy. 

This permissiveness overlooks the fact that the procedures used to create AI-generated pornography are often abusive in themselvesAI tools learn by scraping sexually explicit images en masse—without distinguishing whether those images were consensually created or distributed, and certainly without obtaining consent before using the images.

As a 2023 Forbes article stated: “AI-generated porn communities are burgeoning on Reddit. But these synthetic sexual photos are built on non-consensual images of real people.”

The Way Forward: Age and Consent Verification

It is not possible for Reddit to truly enforce its policies against child sexualization, child sexual abuse material, and image-based sexual abuse unless it commits to meaningfully verifying the age and consent of all individuals depicted in sexually explicit content.

NCOSE continues to press on Reddit to make this and many other needed safety changes! Please join us in calling this internet giant to account by signing the quick action below!

This is the only way forward. Until Reddit implements meaningful age and consent verification, they should ban sexually explicit content. Further, as it is currently impossible to verify the age and consent of all the individuals used to create AI-generated pornography, this content should be uniformly banned.

The Numbers

300+

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

100+

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

93

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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