More than 50% of sexual offenses against children are committed through Facebook-owned apps, according to data from the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Childhood Hardness). The charity called for more to be done to address harassment and abuse of private messages.
Facebook has revealed its plans to exchange messages in all its applications (Instagram, Facebook Messenger etc.) with end-to-end encryption, as in WhatsApp, to enhance user privacy. However, the NSPCC argued that this data, collected through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to the police, showed that The company's encryption plans will leave children at greater risk.
According to information gathered by the charity, 9.477 incidents of sexual or obscene offenses against children recorded by the police in space between October 2019 and September 2020, with 52% taking place on Facebook apps. In addition, the data showed that Instagram was used in over 1/3 of the cases, more than any other social media giant platform. Data collected by 35 police authorities in England, Wales and the Channel Islands.
The NSPCC also noted that if Facebook goes ahead with its encryption plans, many of these offenses may not be revealed in the future unless new safeguards are implemented on the platform.
The charity also calls on the UK Government to donate to Ofcom the power to take "timely and effective action" against companies whose dangerous design choices put children at risk. The NSPCC has repeatedly called for encryption plans to take effect only if and when the platforms can demonstrate that this will not endanger the safety of children.
According to new data, WhatsApp represents 1 in 10 incidents recorded by the police, where Facebook apps are involved in online child sexual abuse. Although end-to-end encryption has some benefits, including improved privacy, it will hinder the ability of law enforcement platforms and services to detect and crack down on child abuse..
Last month, a senior National Cybercrime Service (NCA) official in the United Kingdom said that Facebook's encryption plan "Is an existential threat to the protection of children". End-to-end encryption is the practice of securing communications from all but the participants, including the platforms that host a conversation.
In response to the survey, a Facebook spokesman said the following: "Child exploitation has no place on our platforms and we will continue to lead the industry in developing new ways to prevent, detect and address abuse. For example, a few days ago we announced new security features on Instagram, including preventing adults from sending messages to children under 18 who do not follow them. End-to-end encryption is already the leading security technology used in many services to keep people, including children, safe from the intrusion and theft of their personal information. "Its full availability in messaging services is a long-term project and we are incorporating strong security measures into our plans."