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Study raises awareness of dangers of sharing explicit images and videos online

November 19, 2012, 2:49 pm

Officers at Northamptonshire Police have applauded a recent study which clearly demonstrates that young people may lose control over their images and videos once they are uploaded online. This follows a study by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) which shows 88% of self-generated, sexually explicit online images and videos of young people are taken from their original location and uploaded onto other websites.

Child Protection Team officer, Carole Walton, said:

“This study helps raise awareness of the potential consequences of sharing sexually explicit images and videos online.

“If you dont want to share your images with strangers then dont put them online. Just because you have removed an image, it is still out there and may even come back to haunt you years later, possibly jeopardizing your career – not to mention embarrassment with family and friends.

“Id like to emphasise a very important point; it is an offence to make, possess and distribute images of anyone under the age of 18 years in any kind of sexually erotic posing or activity. The fact is, we dont want young people to make pictures of this kind in the first place.”

The study, which was carried out using data collected throughout September 2012 by IWF Internet Content Analysts, aimed to establish a snapshot of how many self-generated, sexually explicit images and videos of young people there are online. It also sought to discover how much of this content was copied from its original source and put on other websites.

In less than 48 working hours, IWF analysts encountered more than 12,000 such images and videos spread over 68 websites. Most of the images and videos (88%) appeared on ‘parasite websites, meaning they were taken from the original area where they were uploaded and made public on other websites. These parasite websites had often been created for the sole purpose of offering sexually explicit images and videos of young people and therefore contained large amounts of sexually explicit content.

Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: “This research gives an unsettling indication of the number of images and videos on the internet featuring young people performing sexually explicit acts or posing.

“It also highlights the problem of control of these images – once an image has been copied onto a parasite website, it will no longer suffice to simply remove the image from the online account.

“We need young people to realise that once an image or a video has gone online, they may never be able to remove it entirely.”

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