Facebook & Instagram parent Meta is pushing further against the circulation of intimate images of minors on the internet. The social media company has already developed multiple tools to support the safety of teenage users across its platforms, and now, it announced that it is financing a new organization in pursuit of this venture.
With the support of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Meta has helped the launch of Take It Down – the new platform that aims to halt and combat the spread of intimate images of minors on the internet.
Meta announced in an official statement on Monday that Instagram and Facebook – two of the social media platforms under its aegis – are the founding members of the platform. “Having a personal intimate image shared with others can be scary and overwhelming, especially for young people. It can feel even worse when someone tries to use those images as a threat for additional images, sexual contact or money — a crime known as sextortion,” Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety at Meta, wrote in the release. For now, the social media company is already working to promote Take It Down across its platforms, as well as integrating it into Instagram and Facebook.
“Having explicit content online can be scary and very traumatizing, especially for young people,” Gavin Portnoy, VP of Communications and Brand at NCMEC, commented on the matter. “The adage of ‘you can’t take back what is already out there’ is something we want to change. The past does not define the future and help is available.”
In order to submit a case to the platform, users need to visit the website – TakeItDownNCMEC.org – and follow the instructions present. Once that is done, the platform will search for their intimate pictures on participating apps and assign a unique numerical code to the image or video privately and directly from their own device. Meta will then use the codes – known as hash values – to find and take down copies of the intimate pictures and prevent them from spreading further on the internet.
While Take It Down is aimed primarily to put an end to the spread of the intimate images of minor users, it extends its services to those who are above 18 years of age as well. Meta noted that parents or adults on behalf of a minor or adults who are worried about the spread of intimate images taken when they were minors can avail of the platform’s service as well. “We created this system because many children are facing these desperate situations,” said Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO of NCMEC. “Our hope is that children become aware of this service, and they feel a sense of relief that tools exist to help take the images down. NCMEC is here to help.”
This development marks the latest step taken by Meta to halt the spread of intimate images of minors on the internet – which has been a perennial problem. One of the company’s earlier answers to tackle the issue – also referred to as “revenge porn” – asked users to upload their own intimate images in order to have them tagged for blocking. Unsurprisingly, the company faced strong criticism as few people were willing to take the risk.