Here’s how you can you report content that’s hateful or illegal, as well as unsuitable images or online contact with an adult
When should you report inappropriate content?
If your child becomes upset or concerned about something they’ve seen online, it’s important to talk to them about what they encountered. Then, depending on the type of content they came into contact with, you have a number of options for reporting it.
If they experienced bullying or abusive comments, or see something inappropriate such as pornography, racial hatred or images of violence, you can report it directly to the content provider – i.e. the website, service or app that hosted the images, videos or words and made them available to view.
Most social media platforms have simple processes in place for reporting inappropriate content. Try searching for ‘Report’, look through their terms and conditions or Help section, or see our tips for doing so here. Although there’s no guarantee that the content will be removed, sites should take your concerns seriously.
If your child stumbles across something illegal online, such as images of children being abused, there are established organisations that will deal with the report promptly.
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is a charity dedicated to supporting victims of child sexual abuse by taking reports of, analysing and removing the images of their abuse. They provide an anonymous and safe hotline to report online child sexual abuse imagery. Find out more at iwf.org.uk.
Any images or videos that show child sexual abuse should be reported immediately to the IWF. Reports can be anonymous and confidential.
(If you want to find out more about what happens when someone reports illegal content to the IWF, see below for our interview with a senior internet content analyst.)
ParentPort is run by the UK’s media regulators and allows you to make complaints about online content, wherever you find it. Their website is parentport.org.uk.
True Vision is a police-funded site that provides information about hate crime. You can report all forms of hate crime, including online content, via report-it.org.uk. This includes racial, homophobic, transphobic, religious or disability hate crime.
Mobile phone content
Report any unsuitable online content that your child sees on their mobile phone – films, still images or even just text – to your mobile operator. If the mobile operator requires further advice, the query may be passed to the British Board of Film Classification’s website (bbfc.co.uk).
Inappropriate contact with an adult online
You should report it immediately if you know or suspect your child has been communicating with an adult online who has done or tried to do any of the following:
- Talk about sex or other type of sexual activity.
- Asked them to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable, such as sending them an image or video in which they’re naked or partially clothed.
- Asked them to meet offline.
- Asked them to lie to their parents about their online relationship or tried to hide it.
Should your child experience any of these things, report it immediately to CEOP (formerly the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), the child protection command of the National Crime Agency. You can make a report via their website: ceop.police.uk/Ceop-Report.
What happens when you report an inappropriate image online?
Ian, a senior internet content analyst at the Internet Watch Foundation, explains the process of reporting to them
When should someone report something they’ve seen to the IWF?
Let’s say that you’re on your favourite social media site, or just surfing online. All of a sudden, you see an image or a video that you think shows a child being sexually abused. Instead of panicking and closing down the windows on your mobile device or computer, you need to report that image or video to us.
How do you make a report?
Reporting to the IWF is quick and easy. And you can remain completely anonymous. Copy the URL (web address) associated with the image or video in your browser. How to do this will vary on different devices and different browsers. A quick search online will show you.
To report something to the IWF, go to iwf.org.uk/report and follow the five-step process with clear information about what you’re reporting, and paste the URL into the correct field. Then just click submit.
What happens next?
Every single report made to us is viewed by a real person. Either myself or one of my colleagues will open your report, look at the image or video and determine whether it is illegal, according to UK law.
If we decide that the content you reported is illegal, we need to find out where in the world it’s hosted, so we can get it taken down. If the content is being hosted in the UK we contact the hosting company, as well as UK police, to let them know we’ve found an illegal image or video that needs taking down immediately. Usually we’re able to remove UK-hosted content in under two hours.
If what you’ve reported is hosted outside the UK, we’ll use our huge network of international hotlines, internet industry members and overseas law enforcement partners to get that content taken down.
We work with the police to try to identify that child and rescue them from the abuse. And that’s why reports are so important to us – by choosing to report, you could be saving a real child from abuse.
How can Vodafone help?
Vodafone Content Control prevents access to online content and services rated 18+, such as violent games, adult content and gambling websites, on Vodafone’s mobile network.
Content Control is in place on most of the devices Vodafone offers, except BlackBerry devices, which use their own server.
The age-restricted content bar only works on Vodafone’s mobile network, not on Wi-Fi, and proof of age (18+) is required if you wish to remove it from your device.
To find out more, visit vodafone.co.uk/control.
For more information about parental controls, check out the interactive guides in our Useful Tools section.