Visual content moderation company, Image Analyzer has commented on a survey of 2000 parents of children aged 5 to 16, undertaken by Internet Matters, which has found that the number of children live-streaming themselves has risen 89 percent in the past year, with one in six children now broadcasting their own videos. This increase has been accompanied by parents reporting a 42 percent increase in the number of children being exposed to online content promoting self-harm and suicide.
Earlier this year, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reported that, of the 132,700 reports it received of online child sexual abuse material (CSAM), 44 percent involved self-generated abuse material. IWF has measured a 77 percent increase in the number of reports of self-generated abuse material since 2019. Each report may contain multiple images, meaning that the IWF is removing millions of online images and videos each year. Live-streaming is making it more challenging for child protection agencies to monitor and remove content.
Commenting on Internet Matters’ findings, Cris Pikes, CEO and founder of Image Analyzer, a member of the Online Safety Tech Industry Association (OSTIA), said, “Children’s adoption of live-streaming poses a particular risk to their online safety and it’s saddening to read that almost half of the user-generated content being deleted by the Internet Watch Foundation depicts children filming themselves, or being coerced into being filmed in a compromising way by groomers. The Internet Matters report highlights both the dangers of the internet and also its huge value as a learning resource and the need to help parents to guide their children on how to use internet services safely. Using the internet is a life skill, but children need to be aware of the dangers. This situation is akin to teaching children how to swim before allowing them in the pool, but also ensuring that pool operators have the right filters and cleaning procedures in place to keep the water safe.”
In April the G7 nations made a joint declaration on their shared Internet Safety Principles. The declaration, from the USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, lays out the nations’ shared principles on ways to combat online harms and protect young people, while also respecting citizens’ personal freedoms.
The Internet Safety Principles precede new laws which will legally oblige digital platform operators to oversee user-generated content and swiftly remove content that could reasonably be deemed harmful to other website users and the wider public. The declarations states, “G7 countries commit to protecting human rights online and agree that tech companies have a corporate responsibility for their users’ safety. This means they should have systems and processes in place to reduce illegal and harmful activity and prioritise the protection of children. These are based on underlying principles in the UK Government’s Online Harms White Paper.”