November 20, 2019

STATEMENT: Instagram is “Predator’s Paradise,” Says International Group of Human Rights NGOs

Joint International Campaign Launched by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (USA), Collective Shout (AU), and Defend Dignity (CDN)


Washington, DC – 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 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.

The three organizations are calling for 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.

Learn more and view screenshots and videos of proof here: https://endsexualexploitation.org/instagram/.

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

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

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