Meta Helps Teens Avoid, Combat 'Sextortion' On Its Platforms

For “Safer Internet Day,” Meta has announced new updates intended to help teen users on its family of apps avoid and combat “sextortion,” a crime involving a person using someone else's nude image as blackmail for more photos, sexual contact or money.

First, Meta is expanding the availability of “Take It Down,” an online tool from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) designed to prevent the spread of intimate images of teen “by scammers, ex-partners, or anyone else” online.

The tool was first launched last year in English and Spanish and is now available in 25 additional languages, making it accessible to millions more teens across the globe.

Take It Down can be used by people under 18, as well as parents or trusted adults on behalf of the young person who is concerned about their intimate content being posted or being circulated online.

Adults who are concerned about images taken of them when they were underage can also use the tool.



Concerned people can head to the website for Take It Down and assign a digital fingerprint in the form of a numerical code to their image or video, privately and securely from their own device. The image or video they want to protect from appearing or circulating online can remain their device and never has to be shared. From there, Meta and other NCMEC partners can find copies of the image, take them down and help prevent anyone from threatening them in the future.

Meta, alongside Thorn -- a nonprofit that develops technology to defend children from sexual abuse -- is also updating its Safety Center's Sextortion hub with updated guidance for teens dealing with sextortion, as well as how parents and teachers can best support their affected teens or students.

The tech giant is also launching a global campaign in order to ensure that teens and parents are aware of these widespread scams and how they can avoid them in the future.

These updates were timed to coincide with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate appearance last week alongside the CEOs of Snap, TikTok, X and Discord, during which Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told him that Meta had blood on its hands. The Senator was referencing the harm Meta's apps have incurred on its youngest users, referencing a man in the audience whose son took his own life after being targeted by a sextortion ring on Instagram.

Zuckerberg apologized to the parents in the audience who had lost children on Facebook and Instagram due to the ongoing crisis of online abuse.

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