A tool that works to help young people get nude images or videos removed from the internet has been launched this week by the NSPCC’s Childline service and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
The Report Remove tool can be used by any young person under 18 to report a nude image or video of themselves that has appeared online. The IWF will then review this content and work to have it removed if it breaks the law.
The circumstances in which a young person may share a self-generated sexual image can vary. Some may have sent an image for fun, or to a boyfriend or girlfriend which has then subsequently been shared without their consent. Whilst others may have been groomed online or blackmailed into sharing this content.
The IWF has seen reports of self-generated images more than double from January to April this year, compared with the same period last year increasing from 17,500 to 38,000.
The impact on young people
Childline said its counsellors hear about the devastating impact that the sharing of nude images can have on a young person.
Some young people told our counsellors they felt embarrassed, fearful and self-loathing, while others had concerns about the long-term impact on their future prospects – and some revealed they’d turned to self-harm to cope with their situation.
One girl aged 14 who contacted Childline said: “I don’t know what to do because this Instagram account keeps posting pictures of me and they keep saying they’re going to follow my friends so they can see them too. It all started after I shared naked pics with someone who I thought was a friend but it turned out to be a fake account. I just feel so hopeless and I don’t know how to make it stop.”
How to get support
If a child has had a nude image shared online it’s vital that they know who to turn to for support and that Childline and the IWF’s Report Remove tool is available for them.
The tool which was first piloted in February 2020 can be found on the Childline website and can be used by any young person under the age of 18. As part of Report Remove, a young person has to verify their age and Childline also ensures that all young people are safeguarded and supported throughout the whole process.
Young people can expect the same level of confidentiality that they would from all their interactions with Childline; they do not need to provide their real name to Childline or IWF if they don’t want to. The tool has been developed in collaboration with law enforcement to make sure that children will not be unnecessarily visited by the police when they make a report.
Cormac Nolan, service head of Childline Online said: “The impact of having a nude image shared on the internet cannot be underestimated and for many young people, it can leave them feeling extremely worried and unsure on what to do or who to turn to for support.
“That’s why Childline and the IWF have developed Report Remove to provide young people a simple, safe tool that they can use to try and help them regain control over what is happening and get this content erased.
“At Childline we also want to remind all young people that if they discover that a nude image of themselves has been shared online that they do not need to deal with this situation alone and that our Childline counsellors are always here to listen and help provide support.”
How to report nude images
A young person can make a report anonymously at any time of day and the IWF will then work to have the image removed if it breaks the law.
A “hash” (digital fingerprint) will be created from the image which will be provided to tech platforms to help ensure the image is not shared or uploaded online. This is the first time that the IWF has accepted images and videos directly, rather than only taking the URLs as they would usually do on their Hotline.
Any young person who makes a report should also receive feedback on the outcome of their report in one working day from the IWF via Childline.
Keeping yourself safe online
Additionally, Childline also has lots of information on how children and young people can keep themselves safe online as well as advice on what to do if they are feeling pressured to send a nude image and what they can do to help them cope if a situation of this nature has happened.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, chief executive of the IWF, said: “When images of children and young people are taken and spread around the internet, they lose control. This is about giving them that control back.
“Once those images are out there, it can be an incredibly lonely place for victims, and it can seem hopeless. It can also be frightening, not knowing who may have access to these images.
“This tool is a world first. It will give young people the power, and the confidence, to reclaim these images and make sure they do not fall into the wrong hands online.”
For further support on getting nude images removed from the internet, children can contact a trained Childline counsellor on 0800 1111 or via 1-2-1 chat on www.childline.org.uk