On Safer Internet Day, Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, calls on Instagram to take urgent action to stop rampant sex trafficking, child sexual abuse grooming and the fetishisation of underage girls on its social media platform. Safer Internet Day is a worldwide event marked in 150 countries that began in 2004, to raise awareness about online safety and creating a better internet.
Collective Shout has carried out an investigation into the behaviour of predators on Instagram. We collected hundreds of samples of sexual, predatory comments on the posts of underage girls - some as young as 7. These included comments by adult men about girls bodies, body parts, sex-abuse acts they would like to carry out on the girls and requests for nude images. We also found that sexualised images of children posted on Instagram, shared under the guise of child modelling, were then shared to paedophile forums where men discuss their sexual fantasies for children.
Some Instagram accounts featuring sexualised imagery of children offer paid subscriptions to 'exclusive content', with one allowing men to purchase bikini shots of a 13- year-old girl washing a dog.
Instagram claims to be using proactive technology to ensure the platform is safe for children. However Collective Shout campaigner Lyn Swanson Kennedy said when she reported the content she discovered, Instagram countered that 'no community guidelines' had been breached. Some predatory comments had been left more than a year with no action from Instagram.
"What we've found shows that sexualisation and harassment of underage girls on Instagram is rampant," Swanson Kennedy said. By giving adult males unfettered access to children and facilitating the transmission of sexual comments Instagram is complicit in normalising the idea that girls are available for sexual gratification. This puts girls at risk.
"If these mega social media companies are going to allow minors on their platform, they must provide adequate measures to keep children safe from sexual predators".
Collective Shout is partnering with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (USA) and Defend Dignity (Canada) in a campaign calling on Instagram to change its policies. In December Collective Shout wrote to Instagram's Global Head of Policy Karina Newton with evidence from our investigation.
Collective Shout representatives will take part in a meeting with platform heads this month.