Active Child Pornography Groups on WhatsApp Leave NGOs Shocked

Written by Nitish Singh
Last updated July 13, 2021

While end-to-end encryption is a massive boon for the average internet user by offering privacy, such anonymity also has a dark side. Two NGOs discovered a shocking amount of child pornography groups on WhatsApp earlier this year and published their findings earlier this week. There are automated censorship tools and filters that are meant to prevent such content from being available on the social media app, but it seems like they do not do enough.

The Facebook-owned messaging app was investigated by two NGOs Screen Savers and Netivei Reshe since July 2018. The two NGOs who discovered the illegal activity were tipped by a man on one of their hotlines. Both organizations cataloged over 10 groups in October 2018 and the content that was available. Facebook should have conducted a manual investigation according to the NGOs and TechCrunch, who also investigated the issue. While Facebook currently commands a moderation staff of 20,000 people there is just 300 employees in WhatsApp with the messaging app operating almost independently.

Child Pornography Groups on WhatsApp

Image Courtesy of TechCrunch

All of the research was backed up by AntiToxin Technologies, and the company has been able to identify over 1,300 videos and images on WhatsApp. Tumblr was recently removed from the App Store after child pornography was discovered on the platform and WhatsApp may suffer a similar fate, but Apple is yet to make a decision.

Facebook’s head of policy Jordana Cutler was contacted in September for a meeting, but such an arrangement was not made. WhatsApp received the research findings today from the NGOs and is yet to take action. Earlier this month the Indian government met with a number of tech companies and service providers to discuss decryption laws that may be implemented soon in the country. If such issues continue to persist on social media government intervention and control might become the norm globally.

What do you think WhatsApp can do to curb such illegal activity on the platform? Let us know in the comments below. Also, make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!

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