by | Feb 26, 2019 | Digital Citizenship, It’s a Public Health Crisis!, Proactive Parenting Tips

Last month, Microsoft came under fire for both showing and recommending child sexual abuse images (aka child pornography) through its search engine, Bing.

This is disappointing, especially coming from a company that has helped to fight online child sexual exploitation!

How did this happen?

TechCrunch received an anonymous tip regarding the Bing search engine. The company hired an internet safety company – AntiToxin– to investigate.

The report from AntiToxin found that certain keywords brought up illegal child sexual abuse images. Not all keywords were necessarily porn-related. When researchers used search terms related to Omegle Kids (a video app chat popular with teens), Bing’s auto-complete suggestions brought up illegal child sexual abuse content!

What’s worse is that even after the report was published and Microsoft claimed to have fixed the problem, TechCrunch was still finding pornographic images on Bing.

A word of warning to parents: AntiToxin worked closely with legal counsel and law enforcement to perform the keyword searches. Do not search for the terms yourself, as you could be committing a crime.

Key take-aways:

  1. Use internet filters and parental controls to help screen out and monitor dangerous and exploitive content. Browsers and apps can’t be trusted to do that for you.
  2. At the same time, we can’t just rely on technology and internet filters to do all the work. There isn’t a foolproof safety net yet. And they can be circumvented – even by your own kids!
  3. The real power comes when kids are prepared to recognize and turn away from sexualized content right away. Develop strategies to talk to your kids about pornography – and why it’s harmful to them. As part of your family’s internet safety plan, discuss with your kids what to do if they encounter unwanted images.

“Speaking as a parent, we should expect responsible technology companies to double, and even triple-down to ensure they are not adding toxicity to an already perilous online environment for children.” Zohar Levkovitz, CEO AntiToxin

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