Joint international campaign launched by Collective Shout, National Center on Sexual Exploitation (USA) and Defend Dignity (Canada)
Today three anti-sexual exploitation organisations from three countries— Collective Shout (Australia), the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (United States), and Defend Dignity (Canada)—launched a campaign to call out rampant sex trafficking, child sexual abuse grooming, and the fetishisation of underage girls on Instagram.
“Earlier this year, YouTube came under public scrutiny for facilitating pedophile comments and networking in the comment sections of videos featuring young children—but what we’re seeing on Instagram now is even worse.
"It’s time to #WakeUpInstagram and stop a predator’s paradise from flourishing. Instagram needs to prioritise the safety of minors, not the accessibility of minors to adults, on its platform,” said Haley Halverson, Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach, National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
Collective Shout campaigner Lyn Kennedy said that since July, the movement had collected hundreds of samples of sexual, predatory comments on underage girls’ Instagram posts.
"What we’ve found shows that sexualisation and harassment of underage girls on Instagram is rampant. By giving adults unfettered access to children and facilitating the transmission of sexual comments—including requests for sexual images—from men to girls, Instagram is complicit in putting underage girls at risk and normalising them as available for sexual gratification," Kennedy said.
"If technology and social media companies are going to allow minors on their platform in any capacity, then they must provide adequate measures to keep children safe from sexual predators”.
Glendyne Gerrard, Director of Defend Dignity, said that in Canada, social media is one of the most common places for pimps and sex traffickers to lure and recruit victims for sexual exploitation, particularly children.
"Instagram’s picture-based platform makes it a haven for predators to groom and sexually exploit minors," Gerrard said.
"Instagram is complicit in these crimes if it does not improve its current policies to better protect children. In partnership with NCOSE and Collective Shout, Defend Dignity calls on Instagram to make it their top corporate priority to protect minors from the risks of being sexually exploited while using their social media platform.”
The three organisations are calling for Instagram to make three vital policy improvements:
1) Instagram must change its settings so that strangers cannot direct message minors.
2) Instagram must fix its algorithm to proactively remove sexualising or sexually graphic comments on minor’s photos.
3) Instagram must update its reporting system so that if someone is reporting a sexual comment on a minor’s post it can be reported as such. The “harassment/bullying” selection does not capture the fact that these comments come from adults who are grooming/sexualising/harassing a child.
Follow the global campaign on social media using #InstaPimpsGirls and #WakeUpInstagram.
Learn more and view screenshots and videos of evidence here: https://endsexualexploitation.org/instagram/.