4,000 online child abuse offences on Facebook apps

Facebook apps were used in more than 4,000 instances of child abuse image and online sexual offences last year.
Freedom of Information requests from 32 UK police forces revealed that Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were used in child abuse image and online child sexual offences last year an average of 11 times a day.
The NSPCC says Facebook must be stopped from creating hiding places for child abuse.
Andy Burrows, NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online Policy, said: “Instead of working to protect children and make the online world they live in safer, Facebook is actively choosing to give offenders a place to hide in the shadows and risks making itself a one stop grooming shop.
“For far too long Facebook’s mantra has been to move fast and break things but these figures provide a clear snapshot of the thousands of child sex crimes that could go undetected if they push ahead with their plans unchecked.
“If Facebook fails to guarantee encryption won’t be detrimental to children’s safety, the next government must make clear they will face tough consequences from day one for breaching their Duty of Care," he added.
The NSPCC is warning that child sexual abuse will go undetected if Facebook continues with its plans to encrypt messaging on Facebook and Instagram without first putting clear safeguards in place.
The platform will no longer be able to see and report illegal content to law enforcement, and as a result, police will be left working in the dark.
The charity warns that more serious child abuse will likely take place on Facebook-owned apps as abusers won't have to move their victims off the platform to other encrypted ones to groom them.
The NSPCC's Wild West Web campaign urges the next government to impose tough regulation on big tech and are calling on supporters to sign an open letter to Facebook demanding they guarantee that children's safety won't be compromised.
The campaign calls for:
- an independent regulator who can put in place mandatory child safety rules for social networks.
- safe accounts for children.
- detailed reporting on how social networks are keeping children safe.

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