Songquan Deng /

Apple has unveiled that its products will now automatically blur sexually explicit images on accounts belonging to minors 12 years of age or younger starting this fall. The tech company had previously offered a similar feature on its iMessage accounts, but the feature needed to be turned on first. The move is an attempt to stem the growing rise of sexually explicit material that targets children through social media. Thorn, a resource that tracks the sexual exploitation of children, ranked Instagram, Kik, and Tumblr as the platforms where minors reported the second-highest rates of online sexual interactions with alleged adults. Another study found that 33% of children who had seen pornography saw it on Instagram. The new feature can also be turned on for teens and adults. Speaking with Faithwire, Lina Nealon, vice president and director of corporate advocacy for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, praised the move. “[Apple is] now turning on this feature proactively — on by default — for kids 12 and under, and that is so great because we know that, oftentimes, parents miss all the different features that are available,” she said. She stated she would like to see the technology set automatically for teens and pointed at the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), which requires tech companies and websites to establish parental consent before collecting information from kids under 13 years old, for why the company set the standard at 12 and under. The feature does still allow children 12 and under to dismiss the blurring feature.

Child sexual exploitation and “grooming” through social media have been hot topics lately. Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri is pushing for the passage of the MATURE Act, which would ban children under 16 years old from having social media accounts. He has also spoken out against pornography. As June celebrates Pride month, social media influencers like Libs of TikTok have highlighted concerns over drag shows for children and sexually explicit material available in libraries in the children’s and middle school sections. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation features the story of Maya (not her real name), a 12-year-old who met a grown man called Robert on Instagram. She would go on to send naked photos of herself to Robert, then meet him in person, and was trafficked, with Robert taking over her account and selling her to grown men. Robert also profited by selling photos and videos he had taken of the girl. She was eventually murdered at the age of 15 by a 43-year-old man who reached out to her through Instagram.  

Jim Caviezel of “The Passion of the Christ” will be releasing his new movie, “Sound of Freedom,” in theaters on July 4th. The film was picked up by Angel Studios and deals with the true-life story of a DHS agent who lost his job for rescuing children from sex trafficking. Speaking with The Christian Post, filmmaker and actor Eduardo Verástegui spoke about his heart behind the film. “What really hurts me the most is that the people who are doing this to these kids are human beings like you and me, made of the same. This is not people who are coming from other planets that are our enemies. This is people like us,” he said. The film’s trailer boldly pronounces, “God’s children are not for sale.” 

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