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Effects of Automated Messages on Internet Users Attempting to Access ‘Barely Legal’ Pornography

NCJ Number
Sexual Abuse Volume: Online Dated: 2021 Pages: 1-19
Jeremy Prichard ; Richard Wortley; Paul A. Watters; Caroline Spiranovic; Charlotte Hunn; Tony Krone
Date Published
19 pages

This paper explores a potentially cost-effective and scalable strategy that may be able to help reduce the online proliferation of child sexual exploitation materials.


With the increasing number of individuals accessing online child sexual exploitation material (CSEM), there is an urgent need for primary prevention strategies to supplement the traditional focus on arrest and prosecution. The authors examined whether online warning messages would dissuade individuals from visiting a honeypot website purporting to contain barely legal pornography. Participants seeking the site were randomly assigned to one of five conditions; they went straight to the landing page or encountered a warning message advising of the potential harm to viewers, potential harm to victims, ability of police to track IP addresses, or possible illegality of such pornography. The authors measured the attempted click-through to the site. Attrition rates for the warning message conditions were 38 percent to 52 percent, compared with 27 percent for the control group. The most effective messages were those that warned that IP addresses can be traced, and that the pornography may be illegal. The authors argue that warning messages offer a valuable and cost-effective strategy that can be scaled up to help reduce the accessing of CSEM online. Publisher Abstract Provided