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Meta and Google join hands to fight online child sex abuse

meta and google join to fight online child sex abuse

Major tech companies, including Meta (the parent company of Facebook) and Google, have joined forces in a new initiative called Lantern to combat online child sexual abuse and exploitation. The program is a response to growing concerns from regulators and the public about the safety of children and teenagers online. Lantern aims to facilitate the rapid detection, removal, and reporting of content that violates the platforms’ policies related to child exploitation.

What is Lantern?

Lantern operates by enabling these tech giants to share signals of illicit activities that pertain to child exploitation. These signals could be identifiers such as email addresses, specific hashtags, or keywords that are commonly used for grooming young individuals, facilitating abusive behavior, or trading materials related to child exploitation.

The Tech Coalition, an organization that unites tech companies on child safety issues, emphasized that Lantern addresses a critical gap by shedding light on attempts at online child sexual exploitation and abuse that transcend individual platforms. The program enhances collaboration among companies to combat predatory actors who evade detection across various services.

Other Players & Pilot Phase

Other prominent platforms within the Tech Coalition, such as Snap, Discord, and Mega (a privacy-focused platform from New Zealand), are participating in this crucial effort. During a pilot phase, Meta removed over 10,000 Facebook profiles, pages, and Instagram accounts, thanks to data shared through Mega. Meta reported these accounts to the U.S.-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and also shared its findings with other platforms for their respective investigations.

Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety at Meta, emphasized the importance of collective industry action in protecting children from predators. She noted that predators operate across multiple platforms, making cross-platform collaboration a necessity.

The announcement of the Lantern program coincided with a Senate hearing in Washington, during which a former Meta senior engineer, Arturo Bejar, revealed that top executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, had ignored his warnings about the safety of teenagers on the company’s platforms. Bejar disclosed alarming statistics from an internal survey on Instagram, showing that 13% of 13-15-year-olds had experienced unwanted sexual advances on the platform within the last week. These revelations underscore the urgency of collaborative efforts like Lantern to address online child safety concerns comprehensively.

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