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Zepeto operator to eradicate child sexual exploitation materials in virtual world using INHOPE's public hotline

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : November 1, 2022, 15:04 Updated : November 1, 2022, 21:49

[Courtesy of Naver Z]

SEOUL -- In an effort to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse in the virtual space, the operator of Zepeto, a metaverse platform created by South Korea's web service giant Naver, partnered with INHOPE, a global network against online child sexual abuse materials. Using INHOPE's public hotline, Zepeto will enable users to anonymously report such inappropriate activities.
 
According to data released by the National Police Agency, cybersex crime cases increased to 4,349 in 2021 from 2,698 in 2019. Such illegal activities are also taking place on Zepeto where some 340 million users engage in many social and cultural activities using avatars. As of January 2021, seven out of 10 Zepeto users were children and adolescents.
 
"Through the partnership with INHOPE, we will further upgrade many different technologies and functions so that children and teenagers can enjoy Zepeto in a safe environment," Naver Z's safety team head Ro Jun-young said in a statement on November 1. Anyone can report sexual exploitation content and they will be deleted after investigation.
 
The Amsterdam-based global network association has established 50 hotlines in 46 countries including the United States, Japan and Thailand to protect young online users. INHOPE has collaborated with various non-governmental organizations and tech firms such as Google and Meta to innovate monitoring technologies and create efficient methods against sexual content.

The use of AI-based web search systems was popularized in South Korea to stop the distribution of harmful online materials including illegally filmed explicit content. In 2020, South Korea was rattled by the shockingly horrible reality of an online sex crime when operators of a smartphone messenger app channel were arrested for filming and sharing some 2,000 illegally filmed sexual videos of ordinary people including minors. 

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