Child find porn on WhatsApp: A warning for parents
Without sufficient human moderators, disturbing content is freely shared on WhatsApp’s groups.
Parents, be aware and cautious of the dangers of Whatsapp if you let your kids use it. The world’s preferred global messaging app has become a place for people to share pictures and videos of illegal child pornography.
According to the Financial Times, researchers found dozens of active WhatsApp groups where media depicting extensive sexual abuse of children are “openly shared”.
Researchers looked at third-party apps that recommend WhatsApp groups based on interest. Here, links to chat groups that trade images of child exploitation can be found with visible references to explicit profile photos.
These researchers claimed to have shared their findings with Facebook (Facebook owns WhatsApp). Nevertheless, these many of these groups are still ‘active’.
“It is a disaster: this sort of material was once mostly found on the Darknet (portions of the Internet purposefully not open to public view) . Now it’s on WhatsApp,” says one of the researchers in the report.
WhatsApp is not the only social platform that finds it difficult to keep child porn off its network. Apple’s App Store removed Tumbler for a month last November, also because of child porn.
For WhatsApp, its end-to-end encryption protects users with an extra layer of privacy. However, this means that law enforcers are unable to see the contents of messages that are suspected to contain abusive or illegal activity.
It also means that Facebook cannot use the same detection tools on its site to monitor WhatsApp. Furthermore WhatsApp only has 300 employees to monitor its 1.5 billion global users. In contrast, Facebook employs thousands of content moderators.
There are currently no specific provisions regarding child pornography in Singapore. Existing laws, such as those under the Films Act, are used to tackle these cases.
For example, putting up obscene content online may be an offence under the Films Act or Undesirable Publications Act. It is also against the law to keep or sell pornographic material.
Proposals in the Penal Code review in 2018 includes suggestions to make it an offence to seek, accessing and possessing of child abuse material. This is aimed at keeping children safe from predators and abuse.
WhatsApp says it will ban a user if they believe is submitting content that is illegal, obscene or encourages conduct that would be illegal.
Here are their tips:
- You can send reports to WhatsApp from inside the app.
- Please provide as much information as possible.
- When needed, take a screenshot of the content and share it, along with any available contact info.
- Report a contact or a group from their profile information using the following steps:
- Open the chat.
- Tap on the contact or group name to open their profile information.
- Scroll to the bottom and tap Report contact or Report group.