How children can prevent nude selfies from being shared online

How children can prevent nude selfies from being shared online

A US nonprofit organization has launched a Japanese-language version of its service designed to help prevent selfies and videos of a sexual nature sent by children to sex offenders from being uploaded to social networking sites.

Many children send sexually explicit photos and videos at the request of people they meet on social media.

It is a growing problem in Japan and elsewhere.

Young people can submit an application anonymously and free of charge on the “Take It Down” website, where the Japanese-language service has been available since the end of May.

Requests may be made for nude or sexually explicit photographs and videos taken of you before you turned 18 years old.

The service was developed in February last year with financial support from Meta, the operator of Facebook and Instagram, and is available in more than 30 languages.

The operator, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said 89,000 photos and videos were requested worldwide in 2023.

When the application is submitted, the image data is converted into a character string and shared by the connected operators of the social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.

Companies monitor their platforms and block the publication of photos and videos containing the same strings or remove them where possible.

A Meta representative said platform operators are limited in their ability to remove photos and videos that have already been posted and shared on social media.

X, formerly known as Twitter, and the messaging app Line are not compatible with the service.

Applicants are not required to upload photos or videos, so materials will not be shared during the application process.

Statistics from the National Police Agency show that in 2023, 1,444 children were victims of pornography cases, and in 527 cases, or almost 40 percent, selfie photos and videos were involved.

An online survey conducted in January by the nonprofit organization ChildFund Japan found that 12.4 percent of about 1,700 respondents aged between 15 and 24 had received requests from people they met online, such as sending sexually explicit selfies or meeting in person.

Only 4.7 percent of these young people said they had consulted someone.

“Many children are not even able to tell their parents about these problems, let alone the police,” says Mizuki Kawamoto, a lawyer who supports victims of sexual violence.

“WeWe are fighting against the spread of photos and videos on the Internet and therefore have to put ourselves under pressure. It is a great advantage if children can submit an application themselves without telling anyone.”