Adults or sexually abused minors? Getting it right irks Facebook

The number of reports of alleged child sexual abuse has increased exponentially in recent years. The high volume of around 100,000 in 2009 overwhelmed both the national clearinghouse and law enforcement officials. A 2019 investigation by The Times found that the only way the Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to manage its caseload from the clearing house was by narrowing its focus to infants and young children.

Ms Davis said policies that lead to more reports could make the bottleneck worse. “When the system is too full of things that aren’t useful,” she said, “then it creates a real burden.”

However, some current and former investigators said the decision should be left to law enforcement.

“Nobody should choose not to report a possible crime, especially a crime against a child, because they think the police are too busy,” said Chuck Cohen, who for 14 years led a task force on Indiana child exploitation .

Dana Miller, commander of a similar task force in Wisconsin, said tech companies might not know if a report might be useful to advance an existing investigation. “While everyone is overwhelmed, we don’t feel comfortable making a blanket statement that we don’t want to see these reports,” she said.

Yiota Souras, legal counsel for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the national clearinghouse for the reports, said the center’s case counts “cannot play a role here.” She said images should always be reported when they could be of a child.

How Facebook does its age determinations is also a point of contention. According to training documents and interviews, Facebook instructs its moderators to include so-called Tanner levels in the age assessment. Originally developed in the late 1960’s by Dr. Developed by James M. Tanner, a British pediatrician, the tool outlines the progressive stages of puberty. But it wasn’t designed to determine a person’s age.

In a 1998 Letter told the journal Pediatrics, Dr. Tanner that using the stages to measure “chronological age” in analyzing child sexual abuse images is “completely illegitimate.” dr Tanner died in 2010. The letter’s co-author, Dr. Arlan L. Rosenbloom, now a retired pediatric endocrinologist, said in an interview that a child could become “fully developed” by 13 or 14 under the Tanner stages. He also called Meta’s approach a “total abuse” of the scale. Adults or sexually abused minors? Getting it right irks Facebook

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