TLDR: Yes. If you were under 18 when the image was taken, report the link(s) where your image/video is being shared to CyberTipline.org and after verifying your age, a CyberTipline analyst will notify the platform and send a removal request. You can also send a request directly to the platform. Visit MissingKids.org/TakeitDown to learn how to contact each platform.
When I look at what brings people to our website, I see searches like this landing people on our “Is your Explicit Content Out There?” page every day. Sexting/sending nudes is increasingly common among young people, and that has led to an increasing number of people looking for ways to take back those images, because sometimes people we trust with our images break that trust and the image is shared without permission. Sometimes the image was created or captured without consent. No matter why it’s out there, there are steps you can take to get it removed and limit its spread.
Each platform has a different protocol for requesting an image’s removal from the site, but generally, the steps look like this:
1. Log into the app/site
2. Find the image or video you want to report
3. Click on the ••• /settings/menu options for the image
4. Select “report content” or similar option
5. When prompted for a reason for reporting, select “sexual content” or similar option
6. Complete any additional prompts
7. Submit the report
For more specific information for different platforms, visit MissingKids.org/TakeItDown.
Some platforms explicitly allow you to report a user who is threatening to post sexual images. The process for reporting a user is similar to reporting a specific image. Again, every site has their own procedure, but the steps often follow this pattern:
1. Log into the app/site
2. Find the user profile you want to report
3. Click on the settings/menu/more options on the profile
4. Select “report account”, “something’s wrong” or similar option
5. Select bullying/harassment/threats/privacy violation or similar option
6. Follow and complete any additional prompts
7. Submit the report
So, if you can make all these reports on your own, why would you report it to the CyberTipline? Well, for two main reasons.
First, NCMEC is a trusted flagger with the biggest players in the online space; when a notice comes from NCMEC, the platform is more likely to move quickly to resolve the issue, as they know the flag is being raised by someone who can vouch for the content and be sure the notice has all the necessary information for the platform to act on. With billions of users on some platforms, you can imagine how many reports of abusive content they get each day. Most of those reports either don’t meet the reporting criteria (someone feels it should be taken down, but it doesn’t explicitly violate policy) or don’t include enough information and must be sent back for follow up, et cetera. When NCMEC sends the flag, platforms take notice.
Second, having your private intimate images shared without permission can be emotionally taxing and stressful. When you report via NCMEC’s CyberTipline, you have the option of working with a real human from our CyberTipline who can keep you updated on the status of your take down request and who can also make a referral to NCMEC’s support services teams. These services may include counselling for you, your parents or family members, peer support (a chance to talk with other people this has happened to), information on seeking legal support or financial restitution for the nonconsensual sharing of your image and other professional referrals.
I hope you never have to use any of the information in this article. But if you’ve made it this far, you may already have had to, and I’m sorry for what you’re going through. Hopefully, we can prevent another person from going through it. See, when I’m not writing blogs, I’m writing prevention education content for NCMEC’s online exploitation prevention program, NetSmartz. Last year, CyberTipline analysts implored me to incorporate information about removing sexual images from the internet into the program after they began seeing an upward trend in reports of online enticement and sextortion. So that’s what I did. Season 2 of Into the Cloud follows Zion, a young gamer, vlogger, and livestream enthusiast who gets caught up in a moment and moons the webcam while livestreaming. This image is captured by a user who then blackmails Zion with the image, requesting 10,000 goldies (game currency) or the picture will be sent to all of his followers. Zion fears getting in trouble with his dad, so seeks out a trusted neighbor instead. With his help, Zion is able to tell his father what happened and work with his friends to get the picture removed. It’s a first of its kind web series crafted specifically for children under 10 years old. True prevention means equipping children with the skills necessary to avoid harm before it occurs, which is why this topic is being introduced to children who are too young for most social media platforms (though we don’t pretend to ignore that many are on these platforms anyway) or are just receiving their own smartphone or other connected device for the first time.
Help keep the next generation of internet users safe and watch Into the Cloud with a child in your life today! All episodes of seasons 1 and 2 are available to download or stream at MissingKids.org/NetSmartz/Videos or on the kid-safe site NetSmartzKids.org/IntoTheCloud.