The eSafety Commissioner has warned of a “real spike” in adult cyber abuse cases in 2018.
- Survey found one in 10 users have had sexual content shared online or sent without their consent.
- eSafety agency helped 800 young Australians remove content from social media sites
- The government agency has teamed up with Facebook to help prevent revenge porn
Julie Iman Grant told the ABC’s National Wrap program her office has seen a “95 per cent month-on-month increase in adult cyber abuse reports since October”, with a 36 per cent increase in the number of complaints lodged this year.
Most incidents involved “strangers and trolls that are hiding behind the anonymity of a keyboard, to spew invective and hate at people online,” Ms Iman Grant said.
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner says two thirds of the image-based abuse and cyber abuse complaints lodged with the government agency involved women.
Its national survey of 4,122 online Australians found one in 10 users have had a nude or sexual image or video shared online or sent without their consent.
Of these people, 25 per cent identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 24 per cent were women aged 18-24 and 19 per cent identified as LGBTI.
Additionally, women were twice as likely to experience image-based abuse than men.
The gender breakdown is mirrored in youth-based cyber bullying — with girls more likely to be targeted online than boys.
“It tends to be peer-to-peer and an extension of what’s happening in the schoolyard,” Ms Iman Grant said.
“We’re seeing a very intense coarsening of dialogue, particularly amongst young people, and of course we know that this dialogue is often modelled by either the adults in our life, or through cultural product that young people might be exposed to.”
Commission working with Facebook on pilot program
She said that so far the government agency has helped remove content for 800 young Australians and linked up with Facebook to workshop a “revenge porn” prevention pilot.
The scheme required individuals who had shared intimate, nude or sexual images with partners, or are worried about recipients sharing them without their consent, to send the images directly to Facebook.
Ms Iman Grant says it provides “a new and secure upload that takes what we call a ‘hash’ or ‘digital fingerprint’ of the image, rather than the sharing of the image itself.”
The eSafety Commissioner says the government agency “supported the idea of Facebook getting ahead” but admits there are security implications surrounding the controversial scheme.
“We’re dealing with the most sensitive of information and data and we want to make sure that there are robust protections in place.
“We don’t want any victims to be re-victimised, and the idea is to prevent the posting of the non-consensual image in the first place,” Ms Iman Grant said.
The eSafety Commissioner was unable to confirm the technology’s launch date, despite launching the trial nearly six months ago.