Child porn photos traded on Facebook in plain sight (report)

Summary:Child pornography and other related graphic content is being traded by pedophiles and predators via Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, and Facebook profiles, according to a new report.

Facebook has reportedly become a hub for pedophiles to trade graphic photographs. Child pornography is heavily being shared by predators on the social network.

Facebook is the world's largest photo-sharing website: the service saw 300 million photos uploaded daily in the three months ended December 31, 2011. This is because it's the world's most popular social network, with 901 million monthly active users as of March 31, 2012. Facebook thus has to work hard to stop questionable content, everything from sick baby scams to pornography and violence.

While we've seen instances of this before, a WND report digs deeper into the problem by using alias Facebook profiles and friending many likely pedophiles and predators on the website:

During the investigation, entire Facebook predator communities were easily spotted. Child pornographers use groups as meet-up points to find others with similar interests. Many of the offenders would list similar interests on their profile pages, including terms such as "Thirteen," "Lolita," "Justin Bieber," "incest" and "PTHC (preteen hard-core pornography)." Their activities might include "Receiving nude pics," and they subscribe to explicit Facebook fan pages posted in plain sight.

In most cases, child-pornography traders and pedophiles have two kinds of friends: 1) sexual deviants who have similar interests and 2) unsuspecting children they've found and "friended" on Facebook. Many predators will establish a virtual relationship with a child, convince him or her to send provocative photos and even persuade the child to meet with them in person.

This specific exposé looks at graphic photos of children, including infants and toddlers. As you can see in the screenshot above, a Facebook user by the name of "Kidsex Young" had a slew of approved friend requests with users whom he or she allegedly traded abuse photos and videos. Here are the titles of discovered Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, and Facebook profiles:

  • Kidsex Young.
  • Preteen Lesbians.
  • 10-17 Teen Bisexual.
  • Incest (2,119 Likes on April 19, 2012).
  • PTHC (preteen hard-core pornography).
  • 12 to 13 Boy Sex.
  • Young Gay Pics and Movie Trade.
  • Gangbanging.
  • Hot and Teen Lesbians.
  • Bl-wjob Fan Page (1,662 Likes on April 20, 2012, mostly girls, some young-looking teens).
  • Young Lesbians.
  • Teen Sex.
  • Love Little Kids.
  • I.ncest Forever.
  • Menfor Babygirls.
  • Sex Little Girls.
  • Nude Teens.
  • F–k Young Girls.
  • F–k Young Boys.

Most of the content is shared to earn bragging rights from thousands of others interested in exchanging content of molested boys and girls, typically taken on the spot by perpetrators with cell phones. There are entire albums dedicated to showing children forced into acts by pedophiles, including children told to show their genitals to the camera, raped by adults, and even forced to perform sexual acts on each other.

This disturbing problem is not a new one for Facebook. Until last year, the company mainly relied on reports from its users about illegal activity. In March 2011, however, Facebook adopted Microsoft's PhotoDNA technology to help fight child pornography.

The system works by searching through the thousands of photographs collected by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Of course this means that a questionable image has to be in said database in order to be flagged automatically. Since new graphic photos are taken and uploaded every day, this is not a problem that can be solved; it can only be curbed.

There is no question in my mind that Facebook is working hard to get rid of such content, but reports like this one remind us that this is an ongoing battle, and not an easy one at that. All illegal content, as well as the Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, and Facebook profiles, were reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In the meantime, I have contacted Facebook for more information and will update you if I hear back. For more information, check out Stop Child Porn on Facebook.

Update at 7:35 AM PST: Facebook responded with the following statement.

Nothing is more important to Facebook than the safety of the people that use our site and this material has absolutely no place on Facebook. We have zero tolerance for child pornography being uploaded onto Facebook and are extremely aggressive in preventing and removing childexploitive content. We scan every photo that is uploaded to the site using PhotoDNA to ensure that this illicit material can't be distributed and we report all instances of exploitative content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. We've built complex technical systems that either block the creation of this content, including in private groups, or flag it for quick review by our team of investigations professionals.

We've worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the New York State Attorney General’s Office in the U.S., as well as the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the U.K., to use known databases of child exploitive material to improve our detection and bring those responsible to justice.

We feel we've created a much safer environment on Facebook than exists off-line, where people can share this disgusting material in the privacy of their own homes without anyone watching. However, we're constantly refining and improving our systems and processes and building upon our relationships with NCMEC and law enforcement agencies specializing in child protection to create an even safer space.

See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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