Instagram boosts children’s online grooming by 70%: British charity


Instagram has been the most commonly used app by criminals for sexual communication with children over the past year, revealed by a British children’s charity.

Online care crimes recorded by British police have skyrocketed by nearly 70% since 2018, according to new figures from the National Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse (NSPCC).

According to figures compiled by charity from 42 police requests for freedom of information in the United Kingdom and Wales, 5,441 online grooming crimes were recorded between April 2020 and March 2021, the same as in 2017. It increased by 69% from the 3,217 cases recorded during the period. 18.18.

Facebook-owned apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger have been used in almost half of the crimes for which communication was known in the last 12 months.

Of these, the numbers show that Instagram was the most commonly used.

Snapchat was named in more than a quarter of the cases where the communication form was known.

Charities said the design flaws in social media platforms have been exploited by criminals to target younger users.

Andy Burrows, Head of Child Safety Online Policy at NSPCC, said:

Charities are urging technology companies such as Facebook to invest in technology that allows them to identify and interrupt such activities, even if all platforms begin to use end-to-end encryption. I did.

Facebook said online grooming is “disgusting behavior” and the company “is determined to continue developing new ways to prevent, detect and respond to abuse.”

The NSPCC also called on the government to take stronger action to counter the rise of online grooming.

It urged the government to “guarantee that the online safety bill will do everything necessary to prevent online abuse.”

The draft online safety bill will be scrutinized by a joint committee of parliamentarians and peers from September. This will be the first major regulatory set for the Internet anywhere in the world.

According to a government statement, this is aimed at protecting people from “harmful content” and “supporting democratic discussions online.”

However, the campaign group fears that the proposed rules may be too vague and undermine freedom of speech.

PA contributed to this report.

Alexander Chan