Paedophiles have been observed using cheese and pizza emojis as a secret code when communicating on Instagram. India, a child protection activist who requested to be identified only by her first name, revealed that there are thousands of accounts on the popular app which openly use these emojis on their bios on Instagram. The bright yellow cheese wedge represents their code for little girls while a pepperoni pizza stands for girl. The emojis put the together spells "CP" which means "child pornography."
Thousands of accounts have been identified to be involved in such activities. They allegedly use the emojis on posts as a way to notify interested parties that they are sharing sexually suggestive or explicit images of children.
As of this time, more than 2,000 accounts have been taken down by Instagram while 5,000 more have already been identified by India's 7,000 strong virtual supporters who flag these accounts using the activist's IG page @PD_Protect.
India explains that the images usually come from pictures that are screen captured from parents' social media pages and shared on paedophile networks.
The London based campaigner said a lady she spoke with was contacted by a complete stranger on Facebook and informed her of a Russian paedophile website that took a picture of an 18-month-old girl crawling on the floor. The image was then edited with make-up added onto the child and was posted on the Russian website.
She adds that some accounts that share child pornography post photos of children on the beach or paddling pools wearing very little clothing . The photos usually would seem to have been suspiciously lifted from social media accounts of other people. Other accounts do not have picture posts but display the cheese and pizza emojis in their description and openly advertise the sale of child porn.
The band of parents behind India's campaign also observed another operation where the account seems normal. However, upon closer look, the comments on the pictures and the accounts they follow evidently leads one to realise the real deal. Once the accounts are linked, they then move to other websites that have cloud-based encryption service where one is able to trade, view and share images.
The campaign was set up with the need to identify and report suspicious accounts while calling on Instagram to change their reporting tool. They also emphasise the vulnerability of legitimate accounts of dancers, gymnasts and child models to these predators as their profiles and images are open for the public view.
Vaishnavi J, Head of Safety at Instagram, told the Telegraph:
"Any content that endangers children is abhorrent and we're committed to doing everything we can to keep it off our apps."
'We remove accounts that share or solicit this type of content and report them to the police. We also use technology that's constantly improving to find and remove known child exploitation imagery." he adds.