A child holding her forehead with a sad expression

Inquiry into “self-generated” indecent imagery

On Monday 9 November 2020, the APPG for Social Media launched its inquiry “Selfie Generation: What’s behind the rise in self-generated indecent images of children online?”

Data from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) showed a 77% increase in the amount of “self-generated” indecent imagery from 2019 to 2020.

The inquiry aimed to understand how this content is generated, the current initiatives in place to prevent its circulation and explore what the impact is of the new Relationships, Health and Education curriculum could be in developing children’s understanding of healthy relationships.

We wanted to hear from stakeholders across the child protection landscape, law enforcement, teachers, parents, guardians, tech companies, academia and children themselves about the extent of this challenge.

Written Evidence

The APPG on Social Media received written evidence from:

  • Barnardo’s
  • Carnegie Trust
  • Dr Abhilash Nair, Aston University
  • International Justice Mission UK
  • eSafe Global
  • Natterhub
  • Emily Setty, University of Surrey
  • Facebook
  • PA Consulting Group
  • Oasis UK
  • ParentZone
  • Professor Andy Phippen and Professor Emma Bond
  • Professor Lorna Woods
  • West Yorkshire Police
  • Snap Inc.
  • Twitter
  • TikTok

Oral Evidence Session 1 – Academic Panel

On 22 March 2021 the APPG heard evidence from a panel of academic experts:

  • Dr Abhilash Nair, Aston University
  • Professor Lorna Woods, Carnegie Trust and University of Essex
  • Professor Emma Bond, University of Suffolk
  • Professor Andy Phippen, Bournemouth University

They made some insightful recommendations, including the need to ensure that reporting services are at least as good for under 18s as they are for over 18s.

Oral Evidence Session 2 – Charities Panel

On 26 April 2021 the APPG heard evidence from internet safety and child protection charities:

  • Will Gardner OBE, CEO, Childnet International
  • David Wright, Director, South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL)
  • Olivia Robey, Child Abuse and Exploitation Lead, Centre for Social Justice
  • Claire Levens, Policy Director, Internet Matters
  • Andy Burrows, Head of Online Safety, NSPCC
  • Emma James, Senior Policy Advisor, Barnado’s

Oral Evidence Session 3 – Law Enforcement Panel

On 19 May 2021 the APPG heard evidence from experts in law enforcement and the threat assessment:

  • Rob Jones, Director of Threat Leadership, National Crime Agency
  • Chief Constable Simon Bailey QPM, National Police Chief’s Council Lead for Child Protection
  • Tom Squire, Clinical Manager, Lucy Faithfull Foundation

Oral Evidence Session 4 – Industry Panel

On 24 June 2021 the APPG heard evidence from industry representatives:

  • Becky Foreman, UK Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft
  • Dave Miles, Head of Safety for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Facebook

Inquiry into the impact of social media on mental health

Between April 2018 and January 2019 the APPG conducted an inquiry into the impact of social media on the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

The report put forward a number of policy recommendations including the following:

  • Establish a duty of care on all social media companies with registered UK users aged 24 and under in the form of a statutory code of conduct, with Ofcom to act as regulator.
  • Create a Social Media Health Alliance, funded by a 0.5% levy on the profits of social media companies, to fund research, educational initiatives and establish clearer guidance for the public.
  • Review whether the “addictive” nature of social media is sufficient for official disease classification.
  • Urgently commission robust, longitudinal research, into understanding the extent to which the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing is one of cause or correlation.