Thousands of reports of AI-generated child abuse content in US


February 5, 2024

By Robert Besser

The US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) says that in 2023, it received 4,700 reports of content depicting child sexual exploitation generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

The problem is expected to worsen with the advance of AI technology, NCMEC told Reuters.

Child safety experts and researchers have expressed concerns about the risks posed by generative AI technology, which could increase online child exploitation.

In 2022, NCMEC received reports of some 88.3 million files.

John Shehan, senior vice president at NCMEC, said, “We are receiving reports from the generative AI companies themselves, online platforms and members of the public. It is absolutely happening.”

In a report released in June, researchers at the Stanford Internet Observatory said that abusers could use generative AI to create new images of real children, therefore repeatedly harming them.

Fallon McNulty, director of NCMEC’s CyberTipline, which receives reports of online child exploitation, said content flagged as AI-generated is becoming “more and more photo-realistic,” making it challenging to determine if the victim is a real person.

He added that OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, has established a process to send reports to NCMEC and is in conversations with other generative AI companies.