Girls at Risk, Tiktok Content, Instagram Tools & More



A new campaign to educate young girls and their parents about the risks of self-generated child sexual imagery (SGI) has been launched this month by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an organisation which works to identify and remove child sexual abuse images from the internet.

The IWF report a 77% rise in cases of SGI in 2020 compared with 2019.  Of the imagery they took action on last year, SGI accounted for 44%.  They warn that children of any background, with unrestricted access to the internet, can be at risk.  80% of SGI cases in 2020 involved 11- to 13-year-old girls. 

The campaign uses the acronym T.A.L.K. to encourage parents to Talk their child about the risks, Agree ground rules about technology use in the home, Learn about the platforms and apps their child is using, and Know how to use the tools available to protect children online.  For children, the Gurls Out Loud campaign encourages children to recognise requests for images as abuse and promotes a 3 step approach:  Block, Report and Tell someone you trust.


The popular social media app TikTok, has been found to host shocking videos which have been posted as profile images on some of its accounts.  TikTok has many underage users despite its 13+ age limit and children could potentially have viewed upsetting content after being recommended to it by apparently innocuous accounts.  According to a BBC report, those responsible for the upsetting content have managed to exploit a previously unknown loophole whereby profile images are not subject to the app’s moderation systems.  TikTok have been taking steps to remove and block the offending accounts.

TikTok is also being sued by the former Children’s Commissioner on behalf of millions of UK and EU child users of the platform, alleging that the company collects their personal information in ways that breach data protection laws.


Instagram have announced new tools to protect users from abusive messaging.  These include a new filter to prevent users from seeing abusive messages in the first place and it will be possible to prevent someone who has been previously blocked from re-contacting someone from a new account.  It has also introduced stricter penalties for those who send abusive direct messages (DMs) on the platform.

The new tools will focus on DM requests and will automatically filter requests containing offensive words, phrases and emojis. Comments and request filters can be controlled in a new section of Privacy Settings, entitled Hidden Words.


A warning has been issued to users of android phones and devices in the UK to beware of a malicious spyware (called Flubot) which masquerades as a text message about a missed package delivery.  It encourages recipients to click a link to download a tracking app.  Clicking the link takes them to a scam website and can result in passwords and other sensitive information being stolen.  The spyware also accesses a user’s contact details to send out further scam texts.  The National Centre for Cyber Security warns not to click on links or install any apps and offers advice on what to do if you have already done so.  It also shows an image of one of the scam websites.

Gooseberry Planet offers over 60 comprehensive lesson plans on all aspects of online safety for 5-13-year olds. Digital workbooks and educational online games provide automatically marked results and clear online graphs. Click here to find out more about Gooseberry Planet!

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