Yubo Partners with NCMEC in Launch of Global “Take It Down” Initiative

As a leading Gen Z live social discovery platform, Yubo cultivates a highly diverse online user community. Young people from across the globe gather to meet, chat, and livestream with other users in their age group.

At the same time, Yubo maintains multiple safeguards that discourage users from sharing inappropriate or potentially harmful content of themselves. Yubo especially wants to prevent sexually inappropriate images of minors from making their way onto the Internet. Toward this end, Yubo has protocols for the prevention, removal, and reporting of these images where necessary.

Yubo has also entered into a landmark partnership with the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (or NCMEC) in support of their latest initiative. Since 2018, Yubo has collaborated with this leading non-profit organization committed to locating missing children and decreasing the sexual exploitation of minors. In February 2023, Yubo announced that it will be partnering with NCMEC once again for its recently launched “Take It Down” service.

Spotlight on NCMEC’s “Take It Down” Service

The NCMEC “Take It Down” service is a free on-demand online service available to minors and their parents. Take it Down provides a way for minors to remove their nude photos or videos from across the Internet and participating social platforms. These images would have been generated when the individual was under 18 years of age.

In part, NCMEC launched this timely program because of a lack of legislation on social media platforms’ protection of young users. In Congress, bipartisan lawmakers are focused on the problem, although no real action has yet been taken.

NCMEC has decided to launch this platform to give minors some of their power back if they have fallen victim to online sexual exploitation. In 2021, NCMEC received almost 30 million industry-wide tips about child sexual abuse content on specific platforms. Most tips came from Meta-owned platforms.

In 2023, Take It Down works across five participating platforms: Facebook and Instagram (owned by Meta), Yubo, Pornhub, and OnlyFans. About 200 other online service platforms have submitted tips. NCMEC has asked these companies to join the Take It Down initiative.

Sacha Lazimi, Yubo’s Chief Executive Officer (or CEO), emphasizes that resolving online problems requires commitment from all participants. “It takes more than just government intervention to mitigate risk and solve issues online…All actors need to play their part…Collaboration is key to identifying solutions to big challenges, so we do hope to see more platforms join the Take It Down initiative.”

Take It Down Resembles a Similar Adults-Focused Tool

NCMEC’s Take It Down service was introduced approximately one year after a similar adults-related tool became available. The StopNCII tool pertains to “non-consensual intimate imagery,” the same types of photos and videos that Take It Down targets, but specifically for adults who are victim of instances such as ‘revenge porn.’

The UK-based Revenge Porn Helpline maintains the StopNCII initiative, which has so far removed more than 200,000 individual intimates from varied Internet platforms. This figure represents an over 90 percent successful removal rate.

How Each “Take It Down” Request Works

To remove an offending photo or video, a minor or adult follows a few simple steps. It’s worth noting that the person’s privacy and anonymity will be protected at all times.
  1. A minor (or adult) identifies a sexually explicit photo or video from their personal device, taken before they turned 18, that they want removed from the Internet and online platforms.
  2. The person submits their photo or video to the NCMEC Take it Down service. Each photo or video receives a “hash” that functions as its digital fingerprint. If an exact copy of the photo or video exists, the hash will recognize it.
  3. NCMEC adds the hash to its hash-sharing list. If an online platform has agreed to receive these minor-linked hashes, it can view the constantly updated list. Yubo’s partnership with NCMEC provides the platform with hash list access.
  4. Each platform can seek out specific hashes, and the app’s software can remove or report all hash matches. This process helps to decrease minor-related exploitative or sexually explicit content on the Internet.

Personal Privacy Is Respected

Most importantly, the NCMEC hash detection and removal process maintains each user’s anonymity and privacy. The user can submit a Take It Down report without the photo or video ever being sent to NCMEC or viewed by another person. NCMEC asserts that its hash database is secure and, to date, no breaches have occurred.

Currently, minors and their parents can access the Take It Down service from anywhere across the globe. Now available in English and Spanish, the service will gradually add more languages to its service offering. In addition, Take It Down will eventually be able to hash value match a live photo or Boomerang video.

Yubo Provides In-App “Take It Down” Access

To enable easy access to the Take It Down service, Yubo enhanced its app’s reporting flow. Now, a Yubo user can report “inappropriate photo/video of me,” following which they will be directed to the NCMEC Take It Down service. Once there, the user can submit an anonymous report of the content in question.

Yubo and NCMEC Leaders Emphasize “Take It Down’s” Key Role

As with any landmark collaboration, both parties’ leaders must have a strong commitment to the endeavor’s goal. Here, the Yubo and NCMEC leadership emphasize their shared dedication to young users’ online safety.

Yubo CEO Expresses Strong “Take It Down” Support

Sacha Lazimi, Yubo’s Chief Executive Officer (or CEO), pointed out the Take It Down service’s advantages. "Take It Down provides young people with a meaningful tool to better control how and where their images are used online. Its launch represents a key step in the mission to eradicate CSAM [or Child Sexual Abuse Material] online.

“Take It Down serves as an added layer of safety and protection for the teens and young adults socializing on Yubo. We are proud to be a partner to NCMEC in the launch of this service and to support innovation that effectively fights the non-consensual spread of content while preserving our users' privacy,” Lazimi concluded.

NCMEC’s Executives Affirm “Take It Down’s” Value

Two NCMEC leaders shared the reason behind the organization’s introduction of the Take It Down initiative. Michelle DeLaune, NCMEC president and Chief Executive Officer (or CEO), explained the system’s purpose. “We created this system because many children are facing these desperate situations…Our hope is that children become aware of this service, and they feel a sense of relief that tools exist to help take the images down.”

John Shehan is the Vice President of NCMEC's Exploited Children Division. He also serves on Yubo's Safety Advisory Board. Shehan applauds Yubo’s support of NCMEC’s Take It Down initiative.

"The issue of non-consensual sharing of explicit content online is complex and long-standing, but Take It Down and other services like it represent a significant step forward for teens, and adults, who have been victimized by this issue firsthand…We are thankful for the support of participating platforms like Yubo as we work to expand Take It Down, and our other initiatives, to make the Internet safe for kids and teens,” Shehan remarked.

Meta’s End-to-End Encryption Could Derail “Take It Down”

NCMEC’s Take It Down initiative will ideally facilitate the removal of sexually inappropriate photos and videos depicting minors. However, increasingly prevalent end-to-end encryption technology may become a major obstacle to the Take It Down implementation.

NCMEC president Michelle DeLaune summarized the problem during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “When tech companies implement end-to-end encryption, with no preventive measures built in to detect known child sexual abuse material, the impact on child safety is devastating,” DeLaune remarked.

To better frame the problem, technology giant Meta (formerly Facebook) financially supports Take It Down and is the leading corporate entity involved in its operation. At the same time, however, Meta is moving toward end-to-end encryption on its Facebook Messenger and Instagram platforms.

To date, NCMEC has little knowledge of Meta’s encryption plans and/or the company’s desire to install safeguards enabling Take It Down to remain in place. For its part, Meta noted that its encryption plans are not yet complete. Currently, Messenger and Instagram are serving as the testing platforms for certain encryption features.

Yubo’s Livestream Moderation Also Promotes Young Users’ Safety

As Yubo continues its participation in the Take It Down initiative, the company also maintains a commitment to its 60+ million users’ safety across its platform. Yubo’s industry-leading livestream moderation is a cornerstone of the company’s efforts. In fact, Yubo became the first social media platform in the world to implement real-time intervention and audio moderation in livestreams.

Like the Take It Down initiative, Yubo’s livestream moderation capability is designed to keep inappropriate user content from appearing on the app. This strategy combines artificial intelligence (or AI) and input and intervention from human Safety Specialists.

AI Vigilance and Safety Specialist Oversight

Yubo’s livestream moderation uses proprietary AI tools that analyze livestream screenshots that are taken second-by-second for every livestream. If the algorithm identifies harmful or inappropriate content, or a user violates Yubo’s Community Guidelines, a Safety Specialist receives an immediate alert.

Next, the Safety Specialist conducts an investigation and chooses the action they will take. They can warn the user, delete the content, and/or institute a short-term user suspension. A device-level permanent ban, and even a local law enforcement report, are also possible outcomes depending on the severity of the violation.

Yubo’s Safety Board Provides Online Safety Leadership

Yubo considers its users’ online safety its top priority. Toward this end, the company’s respected Safety Board provides ongoing guidance on safety-related issues. The Safety Board’s members are well-regarded global online safety leaders. Besides NCMEC, Yubo Safety Board members are drawn from INTERPOL Thorn, and The Diana Award, plus several other entities.

Besides regularly reviewing Yubo’s safety policies, the Safety Board recommends updates as relevant developments occur. When an issue requires decisive action, the Safety Board is available to provide timely advice. Taken together, the Safety Board’s guidance and Yubo’s industry-leading safety strategies promote safe online experiences for users of all ages.
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