Facebook Responsible for 94% of Child Sex Abuse Images Reported to Tech Firms

  • Facebook was responsible for 94% of the 69 million child sex abuse images reported by US technology companies last year
  • The figures emerged as seven countries, including the UK, published a statement on Sunday warning of the impact of end-to-end encryption on public safety online
  • Facebook has previously announced plans to fully encrypt communications in its Messenger app, as well as its Instagram Direct service – on top of WhatsApp, which is already encrypted – meaning no one apart from the sender and recipient can read or modify messages
  • The social media site said the changes are designed to improve user privacy on all of its platforms, but law enforcement agencies fear the move will have a devastating impact on their ability to target paedophiles and protect children online
  • Some 16.9 million referrals were made by US tech firms to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) last year, including 69 million images of children being abused – up 50% on the previous year.
  • Some 94% of the reports, which include the worst category of images, came from Facebook, Home Office officials said

Over 500 Victims of Revenge Porn in England and Wales Were Children Last Year

  • More than 500 children were victims of so-called ‘revenge porn’ in England and Wales last year, according to new data shared with the Guardian
  • Freedom of information requests have revealed there were 541 underage victims of the offence – the distribution of sexually explicit images or videos with intent to cause harm –reported to 36 police forces in England and Wales between January and December 2019
  • A further 360 children and young people were suspects, fuelling concerns about the scale of the problem of revenge porn being perpetrated by children on other children
  • While the average age of the victims was 15, they also included victims aged 8-11-years-old, as well as one Essex teenager who came forward three times as a victim
  • “These numbers are really worrying because they’re the incidents reaching the police while many other instances of this nasty, abusive behaviour will not,” said Sarah Green, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition
  • The findings from a series of FOI requests, filed by the media literacy charity The Student View, have raised concerns about the delayed implementation of the new relationships and sex education (RSE) curriculum in England.

Twitter Tightens Rules to Stop False Claims of Election Victory in the US

  • Twitter has said it will not allow any of its users – including candidates – to claim victory prematurely in the forthcoming US election
  • It said any tweets claiming victory before a clear projection would have a warning label added, following a similar decision from Facebook last month
  • Twitter will also temporarily change the way retweets work – prompting users to “quote tweet” and add their own thoughts before spreading a message
  • If users do not add anything, it will appear as a normal retweet
  • “Though this adds some extra friction for those who simply want to retweet, we hope it will encourage everyone to not only consider why they are amplifying a tweet, but also increase the likelihood that people add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation,” the company said
  • That change is planned to happen on 20 October, “until at least the end of election week”

Surge in Number of Children Applying for Free Meals

  • There has been a surge in the number of UK children registering for free school meals, with an estimated 1 million pupils recently signing up for the first time, according to food poverty campaigners
  • Analysis by the Food Foundation thinktank, released as part of footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty, estimates that as many as 900,000 more children have sought free school meals, on top of the 1.4 million who were already claiming, as the Covid-19 crisis places greater economic strain on families
  • Campaigners urged Ministers to prevent a growing food insecurity crisis for millions of children by widening eligibility for free lunches to all children up to the age of 16 whose families were claiming universal credit or other benefits
  • The Manchester United and England footballer Rashford, who was this weekend awarded an MBE for services to vulnerable children, said: The numbers recorded here just reinforce the need for urgency in stabilising households … we must act now to protect the next generation and the most vulnerable across the UK”