Non-Consensual Image Sharing and Digital Harm: New Tool to Support Youth Survivors with Image Removal

Apr 06th, 2023

By Hanah Ajamian and Rhea Waghray, Program Interns

As technology evolves, so does our need to practice digital safety. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has released a tool called Take It Down to help youth that are victims of non-consensual image sharing. This new program can help remove online nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photos and videos taken before someone was 18. The idea behind the tool is that anyone can anonymously use the website to track down images of themselves and Take it Down will do just that, take it down. 

Teens are particularly vulnerable to this type of exploitation. Sexts can be created and shared consensually with another person, and then non-consensually distributed or published online. This content can also be created through coercion when someone is pressured or manipulated into sending sexually explicit images, videos, or messages. A 2018 study published in JAMA Pediatrics analyzed survey data from more than 110,000 teens aged 12-17. The study found that 27.4% of teens reported receiving a sext and 14.8% reported sending a sext (Madigan, et al, 2018). These numbers are also pre-pandemic and the use of technology for social connection has increased over the last three years. Youth also experience catfishing by online perpetrators who pretend to be someone else and build a relationship to get sexual content, and then use that content to threaten, blackmail, and harm the youth even further. This raises many understandable concerns for teens and their parents who are afraid of this happening and having no control over where their images go and the ability to remove them from a website.

Take it Down uses something called a ‘hash’ which is a digital fingerprint. Every image has a ‘hash’ and by entering this fingerprint into the database Take It Down can track down the images and remove them. According to NCMEC’s CyberTipline since the creation of Take It Down, reports of child exploitation have gone up 35% (Ortutay, 2023).  

There are limits to the abilities of this new tool. At this time, Take It Down is only partnered with a handful of apps including Instagram and Facebook, Yubo, OnlyFans, and PornHub. There are also limitations to its photo tracking ability. Despite these current challenges, Take It Down offers a way for individuals, especially of younger populations, to take action in a way that is anonymous, safe, and empowering. To learn more about this service, visit NCMEC’s Take It Down webpage. Resources are also available to adult victims of non-consensual image sharing. Stop Non-Consensual Intimate Image Abuse (Stop NCII) supports individuals internationally with image location and removal from online platforms. If you want to learn more about your legal options in Maryland, contact MCASA’s Sexual Assault Legal Institute at 301-565-2277. 


Madigan, S., Ly, A., Rash, C.L., Van Ouytsel, J., & Temple, J.R. Prevalence of multiple forms of sexting behavior among youth: A systematic review and meta-analysis (2018). JAMA Pediatrics. Retrieved from:

Ortutay, B. “'Take It down:' a Tool for Teens to Remove Explicit Images.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 27 Feb. 2023. Retrieved from: 

Vaughan, E. H. (2023, February 27). NCMEC launches New Service that can help you "take it down". National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Retrieved from: 

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