The Innocent Childporn campaign targeted pedophiles through the same medium that they use to download and spread illegal footage of child abuse: the Dark Web. We uploaded videos on known platforms and chatrooms and made sure that each filename and post on the looked like real childporn to urge pedophiles to download. This way our message to seek help immediately reached the right audience through the most relevant medium.
Child Focus, the Belgian center for missing and sexually exploited children, has been trying to put a stop to childporn for years. For the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, they wanted us to create awareness for stopchildporno.be: an online hotline were people can report online images of child abuse.
However, most childporn is actually not found on public websites, but in the more hidden and restricted areas of the internet, called the Dark Web. An obscure digital platform where people can easily exchange illegal footage while remaining completely anonymous.
Describe the creative idea/insights
So we fought the battle against childporn on two fronts.
First we promoted stopchildporno.be by targeting people in general. We uploaded three videos on social media with ambiguous titles like ‘5-year-old playing with cock’. Of course, when the video started playing automatically people didn’t get to see real childporn, but innocent footage of children instead. The clip is then followed by the message that not all children’s videos are this innocent and that people should always report images of child abuse.
Secondly, we took the campaign a step further and targeted pedophiles directly. With the help of federal police and Europol we managed to upload alternative versions of the videos on various appalling forums on the Dark Web. So when Paedophiles clicked on our video titles they didn’t get what they expected. We confronted them with their behaviour and urged them to seek help immediately via the prevention platform stopitnow.be.
Describe the strategy
As most childporn is not found on public websites anymore, but more and more located on the anonymous Dark Web, we thought it was time to target pedophiles through this relatively new medium and urge them to seek help.
But to target pedophiles directly we had to find a way to reach them. We decided to pay them a visit on their own turf: The Dark Web. On different forums we uploaded videos with titles that sounded like real childporn. So when pedophiles downloaded our videos, they thought they would get to see real childporn. Instead they were show innocent children’s videos that urged them to seek help immediately via the prevention platform stopitnow.be.?
Describe the execution
After thorough research and the approval and help of federal police and Europol we managed to dig our way into the Dark Web. Here we came across various anonymous forums and chat rooms where mostly Belgian Paedophiles are active. Under the pseudonym ‘Lollipop’ we then uploaded three videos (Dutch and French) with file names that sounded like real childporn. This way we effectively used the turf of pedophiles as a new media channel to approach them.
In total the videos were uploaded 21 times on 12 different forums and chat rooms. Uploading started on November 17 2017 and all download links to videos are still alive today.
List the results
• The campaign was widely covered in news on national TV, radio and press.
• The videos on the Dark Web were downloaded a shocking 11.000 times.
• Calls for help to stopitnow.be immediately doubled in the first weeks of the campaign.
• The videos on social media were watched half a million times and reached one million people.
• Reportings on stopchildporno.be increased by 40% in comparison to last year.
• The campaign reached a total of 21 million media impressions and € 300.000 in earned media.