Child Sexual Abuse Imagery

Definition: Media that depicts or encourages the sexual exploitation of children.
Legal Status:
Almost always illegal
Platform ToS:
Violates Policy
Victim Visibility:
Inherent in Content
TSPA Abuse Type:
Violent and Criminal Behavior: Child Abuse and Nudity

Child Sexual Abuse Imagery (CSAM) (previously known as Child Porn) is the creation and distribution of images, audio or video that depicts the sexual abuse of children. It is a uniquely pernicious form of online harm, in that the creation of the media always constitutes a serious criminal and moral violation, and it's continued circulation traumatizes victims and normalizes abhorrent sexual acts.

The universal condemnation of CSAM is a notable area of broad consensus on an internet rife with extreme diversity. This unified view has yielded an unrivaled level of legislation, collaboration and tooling that heavily coordinates and streamlines the discovery of CSAM, and translates it into law-enforcement activity.

Because of this near-universal condemnation, CSAM spreads in corners of the internet that are out of public view, typically insular, and highly technically sophisticated. Though they are rarely used expressly for the purposes of storing and distributing CSAM, public platforms have an important role to play: they are likely to receive CSAM uploads through backups or peer-to-peer file sharing, and thus have the potential to intervene in an issue that otherwise can continue to cause harm out of the public eye.

What features facilitate Child Sexual Abuse Imagery?

File/Link Sharing
The capacity of one user to publish or share files or links with other users.

How can platform design prevent Child Sexual Abuse Imagery?

Media Provenance
Record and display the chain of custody and original source for media.
Label/Detect Identical Content
For some features, duplicate data suggests misuse.
Right-size content visibility
Place limits on the amount of harm content can cause on a platform by restricting its reach.
Save Extensive Metadata
Recording extensive metadata about sensitive activity can reduce criminal appeal.
Allowing anonymous uploads of images or videos risks illegal material being uploaded and shared without accountability.
Anonymous Limitations
Require users to create an account before they can use features that create data or interact with others.
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