New tool to remove nude images of young people online

NSPCC Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) have launched a new tool to help young people remove nude images that have been shared online.

The Report Remove tool can be used by anyone under 18 to report a nude image or video of themselves that has appeared online. A young person can make a report anonymously at any time of day.

The IWF will then review this content and work to have it removed if it breaks the law.

A ‘hash,’ or digital fingerprint, will be created from the image. This 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.

The IWF said that 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 in the first three months of the year compared to 2020, increasing from 17,500 to 38,000.

The tool, which was first piloted in February 2020, can be found on the Childline website.

“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,” said Cormac Nolan, service head of Childline Online. “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.

Nolan added: “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."

Susie Hargreaves, 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.”

Hargreaves added: “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.”

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