Today is World Kindness Day, and what better time to promote positive thoughts and actions than by leading with respect, empathy, and compassion in all interactions – both online and off. Kindness is a Snap company value. It’s essential to our business, and it plays a key role in our safety work. Sadly, a range of online safety issues can start with negative or unkind behaviors.
One example is the non-consensual creation and sharing of intimate imagery online — an unfortunate and growing trend across platforms and services.
Snap recently joined SWGfL’s StopNCII collaboration to help prevent the spread of non-consensual intimate imagery (NCII) on Snapchat by leveraging StopNCII’s hash database. Much like our long-standing and ongoing work to detect, remove, and report known, illegal photos and videos of child sexual exploitation and abuse through so-called “hash-matching,” StopNCII provides a dedicated database of “hashes” of NCII images. By ingesting and scanning against these hashes, we can help stop the online spread of violating material and support victims in their efforts to reclaim control over their most private and personal data.
“We're pleased to have Snap join us at StopNCII in combating the online sharing of non-consensual intimate images,” said David Wright, CEO of SWGfL, a UK-based NGO. “Since our launch in December 2021, we've empowered victims to regain control and alleviate their fears. Our success depends on collaborations with platforms like Snap, as more participation directly leads to less fear for victims globally.”
Snap prohibits NCII and makes this clear in our anti-bullying and harassment rules. Our Commmunity Guidelines
specifically state that these prohibitions extend to “all forms of sexual harassment,” including sending sexually explicit, suggestive, or nude images to other users. We don’t want this content or conduct on our platform; it’s not in keeping with Snapchat’s goal of being a place for sharing and delighting in the joy of authentic expression. If someone is experiencing or witnessing a possible violation of our policies, including the production, sharing, or distribution of non-consensual intimate imagery, we encourage them to report it to us right away, and possibly to local authorities, as well.
New Snap research
Our latest research across all platforms and services — not just Snapchat — shows that 54% of young adults, aged 18 to 24, encountered intimate imagery earlier this year, and more than a third (35%) were asked to share sexual photos or videos online. Nearly half (47%) said they received unwanted sexual imagery, and 16% admitted to sharing such content. Those who actually shared such imagery likely under-reported their conduct, being that those who received intimate photos and videos outpaced those reported as having shared three-fold.
These findings are from Year Two of our Snap Digital Well-Being Research in six countries: Australia, France, Germany, India, the UK, and the U.S. For the second year in a row, we’ve surveyed teens (aged 13-17), young adults (aged 18-24), and parents of teens between the ages of 13 and 19 about their online activities. The survey ran from April 28 to May 23, 2023. We polled a total of 9,010 participants, and their responses accounted for online experiences from roughly February through April. We will publish all global findings on Safer Internet Day 2024 in February but are previewing this data on World Kindness Day.
Who they shared with
Findings show teens and young people said they shared intimate or sexually suggestive imagery primarily with people they know in real life. But, as we know, that material can rapidly spread beyond the intended recipient. Of the 42% of Generation Z respondents who were involved with intimate imagery (54% of young adults and 30% of teens), nearly three-quarters (73%) said they sent imagery to someone they know in real life, while 44% sent intimate photos or videos to someone they only know online. In a third of the instances (33%), the material was shared beyond the original intended recipient. The graph below details the results of those who shared with online contacts.
Celebrate not sharing
In our study, we were particularly interested in hearing from those young people who were asked to share intimate imagery online but did not in the hopes of sparking critical thinking and reflection. Their reasons were many, with both age groups primarily saying they were uncomfortable sharing. In addition, teens were more concerned that their parents or caregivers would find out, and the 18- to 24-year-olds were more worried such actions would impact their future prospects, like getting into college or landing a job. More on the top reasons respondents gave for not sharing:
Uncomfortable sharing this imagery: Young adults: 55%, Teens: 56%
Worried about the imagery going public: Young adults: 27%, Teens: 25%
Concerned it could affect future prospects (e.g., college admission, jobs, relationships): Young adults: 23%, Teens: 18%
Worried imagery would go beyond intended recipient: Young adults: 21%, Teens: 20%
Concerned parents/guardians would find out: Young adults: 12%, Teens: 20%
Snapchat’s tools and resources
Snapchat has in-app tools for users to block offenders and report specific Snaps (photos or videos) and accounts. Snapchatters can simply press and hold on a piece of content to report it to us or complete this online form
at our Support Site. The form can be submitted by anyone, regardless of whether they have a Snapchat account. (Learn more about how reporting on Snapchat works here
.) Reports are reviewed and actioned by Snap’s Trust and Safety teams, which operate 24/7 around the clock and around the globe. Enforcement might include warning the offender, suspending the account, or terminating the account entirely.
We urge everyone to leverage our tools and to know that doing so benefits the entire community. We would prefer that incidents not get to the reporting stage — that’s another reason we wanted to be a part of StopNCII, but reporting does serve an important purpose.
We also encourage young people, and all Snapchatters, to check out our new Safety Snapshot episode on sexting and sharing nudes. Just search “Safety Snapshot” in-app. We recently added a total of four new episodes about various sexual risks. All were reviewed by the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and emphasize pausing, questioning someone’s motivation, and thinking critically.
We look forward to sharing more from our research and about our ongoing work to make Snapchat a safer, healthier, and more fun environment for creativity and connection. Until then, Happy World Kindness Day, and let’s aim to embrace kindness not just on November 13 but throughout the year.
- Jacqueline Beauchere, Snap Global Head of Platform Safety