“Child pornography on the net and particularly in the dark web, would be in vertiginous growth: two million images surveyed in 2016, almost doubled compared with the previous year. Unintentional source would be the social network in which parents post the pictures of their children”. The alarm has been launched by the Personal Data Protection Authority, in the annual report on the activities of 2016 to the Parliament.
A warning that is translated in the invitation to the parents, not to post with ease pictures of their children. In fact, if before child pornography mostly used illegal material found in reserved circuits, today the operation, with the complicity of the social media, is much simpler: it is sufficient to share a photo in order to make the image of a minor available for a paedophile.
In short, what for a parent is a gesture of love, for an attacker may become a resource. It is shown in a report published some time ago from Australia’s new children’s eSafety, the Australian body that has the task of monitoring the safety of children online. The results of the study indicate that at least the 50% of the photographs seized to paedophiles by police, portrays children while they perform ordinary activities, like swimming or sport. But, once those pictures enter the network, they get sexualized with unrepeatable comments. And we are not talking about a few dozens of images, but of millions of them. “Many users clearly state that they got the material stealing it from a social profile and often these people exchange their email address with the invitation to connect outside the site to sell the material” explained a component of the Australian authority. Another member of the same Commission added that in a site frequented by paedophiles, out of about 45 million photos representing minors, about half of them seemed taken from social media and then inserted into categories with dreadful names such as “The little friends of my daughter on Instagram“.
What facilitates the task of these criminals is the naivety with which parents turn to the new communication platforms. Often the tools for privacy made available which allow, for example, to limit the display of the content only to an audience of “trust”, or those that allow to cover with emoticons ad hoc the face of the minor in the picture, are not used.
The problem of online paedophilia is obviously vaster and also relates to real forms of priming (grooming) by “orcs” through the web. In its institutional portal, the State Police explains: “The extreme confidence that young people have with internet sometimes leads them to cross the borders of prudence, allows them to ride their natural curiosity towards love with a greater freedom than they would have in real life“. So those who have an interest to come into contact with them to build increasingly morbid relationships, have at their disposal a place where they can be approached with ease, maybe hiding in a first moment the true identity. This, then, is associated with the wrong perception of those who consider the internet a protected area assenting to the requests of their interlocutor, also consenting (when the relationship become more confidential) to the request of showing themselves without veils. In time the paedophile, in fact, takes advantage of its intellectual maturity to manipulate the minor and forcing them to do things that are not suited to their age, to enforce them to “take pictures or filming their privacy which can become public”.
When they realizes the trap, teenagers enters into a spiral of fear and guilt that prevent them to confront the family. For this reason, in Italy the Telefono Azzurro provided to parents a vademecum seeking to prevent the solicitations. Experts advise to build with children a sincere dialog, which leads them to share their concerns. It is necessary to take an interest in their activities and to learn about the people and the places that they habitually attend. It is important to note the small changes in their emotional sphere, to confront with school teachers, to carefully choose the persons to whom they are entrusted (baby sitter, neighbours etc.), to establish with the children simple safety rules. If one has a suspicion of a solicitation, the invitation addressed to parents is to denounce it immediately to the public security forces.