Trends: the use of chatrooms and apps is increasing

In response to what the police officers view as new or increasing trends in ongoing investigations, almost half (46 %) say that the use of social media, chatrooms, and apps (especially in mobile phones) is increasing. They connect this trend to the fact that grooming and live-streaming is on the rise too. When surveyed for last year’s report, 34 percent of police officers pointed to these increasing trends.

Increase of apps and chatrooms

The police officers who responded to the survey listed increased use of apps and chatrooms as the biggest new trend (25.5 %). Ten percent say that they have noticed an increase in the use of mobile phones, often linked to increased use of mobile phone apps. Social Media and apps are often used to contact children for grooming purposes. The conversations are then often moved to private chatrooms where the child is either coerced or forced to send images. Chatrooms are also used by offenders to liaise with other offenders and share material.

“Live-stream of abuse. Contacting a child through a mobile app like Musical.ly, then moving to a more secure and less monitored Chat App for abuse and sextortion.”

“Increasing trends utilising social media apps for new contacts, increase is self-produced child sexual abuse material due to the use of social media applications, and also an increase in sextortion incidents.”

“Short blog and chat room sharing of child sexual abuse material.”

“More internet based abuse. Offenders can more easily reach their victims by apps and services on the internet.”

 

Increased cases of grooming

8.6 percent of the surveyed police officers state that they believe that incidences of grooming on the internet it increasing. Offenders contact children, often using a false identity pretending to be much younger than they really are, and persuade children to send them images. Several police officers mention that gaming platforms aimed at children are used by offenders to get in touch with children.

“Grooming is increasing. The children have access to the internet sooner and sooner.”

“Grooming via social media apps. Offenders can hide behind spoof profiles, where they generally lie about their age and sometimes gender. They then repeatedly ask for indecent pictures / videos, or send videos of themselves.”

“Offenders are using more gaming platforms and chatting applications to communicate with their victims.”

 

Live-streaming is increasing

10.7 percent of police officers surveyed state that they have seen an increase in live-streaming in chatrooms and through chat applications where online abuse happens in real-time.

“Encrypted live-stream shows over conferencing or messaging programs.”

“Live-streaming of child abuse, whereby the suspect offers money in exchange to view online abuse – this footage is rarely saved onto the devices by the suspect however chat logs indicate that streaming took place.”

“Children live broadcasting on apps like Periscope, where they are asked to undress and to do sexual acts.”

COMMENT ON INSIGHT 7

“We need to teach kids safe internet behaviour”

Taskforce Argos, Queensland Police, Australien: Adèle Desirs, Jon Rouse, Paul Griffiths, Scott Ballantyne och Stuart Butler.

READ COMMENT

“There is a high demand for new and unique material and in order to stay anonymous offenders hide clues and crop out information.”

More insights from the report

DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY – BOTH A CHALLENGE AND AN OPPORTUNITY

THE “NORMAL CASE”: FEWER THAN 50,000–500,000 IMAGES

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TYPICAL OFFENDER (Consumer of child sexual abuse material)

THERE IS A CORRELATION BETWEEN VIEWING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE MATERIAL AND ABUSING CHILDREN

THE OFFENDER IS MOST LIKELY TO VICTIMISE CLOSE FAMILY MEMBERS OR RELATIVES

CSAM IS VIEWED 24-HOURS A DAY, THROUGHOUT THE WEEK – INCLUDING HOURS SPENT IN THE WORK PLACE

TRENDS: THE USE OF CHATROOMS AND APPS IS INCREASING

TRENDS: THE USE OF ANONYMISATION TECHNOLOGIES, ENCRYPTION AND CLOUD STORAGE IS INCREASING

THOUGHTS ON THE REPORT

“To eradicate child sexual abuse we need more resources, and, most importantly, they need to be applied in the right way.”