Facebook and Zindagi Trust launched a campaign in Pakistan to educate the public about the harm caused by sharing child abuse material online, and the importance of reporting it through proper channels.
This campaign follows research conducted by Facebook, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Professor Ethel Quayle, a world leading clinical psychologist who specializes in sex offenders, to understand why people share child exploitation content.
Researchers conducted an investigation of 150 individuals who shared child exploitative content on Facebook in July and August of 2020 and January 2021. Based on a thorough analysis of these individuals’ behaviors on Facebook, child safety experts believe that more than 75% did not exhibit an intent to harm children. Instead, they appeared to share child exploitation content for other reasons, such as outrage or poor humor.
Based on this analysis, the company developed the campaign, together with child safety partners such as Zindagi Trust to encourage people to report child sexual abuse material and not share it. The campaign reminds people not to reshare this content because no matter the context it is being shared in – whether it’s outreach, condemnation or even ill humour – any sharing of child exploitation content causes further harm and is illegal.
Shehzad Roy–Founder of Zindagi Trust said, ‘It is great to see Facebook taking an initiative towards preventing the spread of online child abuse material. We must understand that child protection needs to extend to all spaces, including digital. By advocating for changes in state policy we have helped prohibit corporal punishment, introduce Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) in schools and reform performance evaluations for teachers. Now we will advocate for effective policy recommendations to safeguard children from cybercrime. However, it will be vital for government institutions and social media companies to remain engaged in this dialogue and take action.’
Speaking about the partnership, Sehar Tariq – Public Policy Manager, Pakistan— Facebook said; “Preventing and eradicating online child sexual exploitation and abuse requires a cross-industry approach, and Facebook is committed to doing our part to protect children on and off our apps. We are taking a research-informed approach to develop effective solutions that disrupt the sharing of child exploitation material. We are delighted to partner with Zindagi Trust on the campaign, leveraging their extensive experience in championing reforms for child protection.”
Program officer at Zindagi Trust, Ali Aftab shared “Child abuse content shared in Pakistan is often accompanied by captions that implore law enforcement agencies to take notice and pursue action. Our campaign will also focus on educating the community on how to report content directly to relevant local authorities. We will work with NGOs, law enforcement and government agencies to improve the efficacy of existing mechanisms so that help and support can be provided to children and their families in a timely manner.”
The campaign will be built upon videos, both instructional and informational, along with policy dialogues with key stakeholders. These dialogues aim to identify policy recommendations that can be given to the concerned government bodies as well as Facebook. However, everyone in the community has to play their part to make this effort achieve significant results.