Meta Announces Tools to Help Protect Against Sextortion and Intimate Image Abuse

19 Apr 2024 Beverley Thornton

Meta has announced new tools being tested to protect young people and adults from intimate image abuse.

The new protections include automatically blurring intimate images with a warning screen. Users sending or receiving such images will receive safety tips and information about available resources.

Additionally, Meta’s changes aim to make it harder for potential scammers and criminals to target individuals on Instagram by automatically placing message requests from suspicious accounts in users’ hidden requests folder, without notifying the recipient. Further protections are being implemented to protect teenagers from having the option to message potential sextortion accounts.

For anyone who may be being affected by intimate image abuse, updated resources will be provided to users who have interacted with a suspicious account, directing them to sextortion resources, support helplines, and services such as for those over 18, and Take it Down for those under 18.

Rising Cases of Sextortion

The new announcement coincides with increasing reports of sextortion to services provided by UK Safer Internet Centre partners, affecting both adults and young people. The Revenge Porn Helpline has documented a continuous rise in reports of this form of blackmail since 2021, with sextortion being the most commonly reported concern the Helpline supports.

Recent reports also indicate a growing trend of sextortion cases affecting young people. Data from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), revealed a record amount of sextortion cases were reported to the hotline in 2023, predominantly affecting the lives of teenage boys.

Available Support

For anyone being affected by sextortion or any form of intimate image abuse, there is support out there to help. In the UK, adults can contact the Revenge Porn Helpline, operated by SWGfL, by visiting their website here. Adults worldwide can use to protect their intimate images from being shared across participating platforms. Find out more about the tool here.

Professionals and parents assisting young people involved in sextortion attempts can access guidance on the Internet Watch Foundation website. Further advice can be found in the SWGfL “So You Got Naked Online” resource.

Young people can also use the Report Remove tool, run jointly by Childline and IWF, which can be used in confidence to help get images removed online.

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