The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a non-profit organization in the United States, has launched a new tool that allows young people to remove explicit images of themselves from the internet, reports AP.
The online service, named ‘Take It Down’, aims to give some control back to victims of online pornography and ‘sextortion’.
NCMEC is taking steps to crack down on the spread of intimate images of teenagers#NCMECTakeItDown will allow minors to remove online nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photos and videos taken before they were 18.https://t.co/Qyr3WTePEZ
— National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (@MissingKids) February 27, 2023
The platform, which is funded by Meta, enables the anonymous reporting of explicit or intimate images posted on specific online spaces.
“Take It Down is available now and allows users from around the world to submit a report that can help remove online nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photos and videos depicting a child under 18 years old,” said NCMEC in a blog post.
Having only launched on Monday, the tool has already been inundated by removal requests.
‘The past does not define the future’
Gavin Portnoy, vice president of Communications & Brand at NCMEC, explains why the tool is needed: “Having explicit content online can be scary and very traumatizing, especially for young people. The adage of ‘you can’t take back what is already out there’ is something we want to change. The past does not define the future and help is available.”
Take It Down works by assigning a distinctive digital fingerprint, known as a hash value, to particular images or videos. By registering for the platform, tech platforms are given these hash values so they can quickly identify and eliminate any explicit content from their public or unencrypted sites and applications.
All of this occurs without the need for the content itself to be transmitted or viewed by anyone, as explained in the blog post.
“We created this system because many children are facing these desperate situations,” said Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of NCMEC.
The NCMEC hopes that children are made aware of the service and reassured that tools exist to help remove explicit images. The nonprofit has emphasized its commitment to assist those in dire need through the service.
Offending imagery can be removed from a range of platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Pornhub, Mindgeek, OnlyFans, and Yubo.
Public appreciating the effort
Needless to say, the arrival of the tool has been warmly greeted by many.
“Very proud to see this come together. It’s been a long winding road here, and now I’m looking forward to seeing this tool positively impact not just FB/IG teenage users but for the whole online community,” tweeted Gabriel Turner in a typical response.
Someone I know was in contact yesterday about their child who was subjected to #sextortion.
— Glen (@Glen_Pounder) February 27, 2023
The sharing of personal and intimate imagery can be scary and overwhelming, especially for young people. It can feel even worse when someone tries to use those images as a threat for more images, sexual contact, or money – a crime known as sextortion.
Thankfully, victims now have a recourse to get the urgent help they need.