Site types analysis

Which types of sites are abused the most?

Image hosts are frequently abused by offenders distributing child sexual abuse imagery. These sites act as “storage” for images which either appear on dedicated websites or are shared within forums. These forums and commercial websites can display many thousands of abusive images. When our analysts see this technique, they ensure the website is taken down and each of the embedded images is removed from the image hosting service. By taking this two-step action, the image is removed at its source and from all other websites into which it was embedded, even if those websites have not yet been found by our analysts.

In previous years, image boards (sometimes called ‘chan sites’) have been heavily abused, with criminals creating boards dedicated to sharing child sexual abuse imagery. In 2020, we worked in partnership with other international hotlines to remove the most notorious of these image boards and its associated sites.

Number of reports by site type

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What can we do about this

Our award-winning IWF Hash List, launched in 2016, can help image hosts to tackle this abuse by preventing the upload, sharing and storage of known child sexual abuse images and videos.

See our 2020 hash analysis

Paid for vs free hosting services

In 2020, 144,877 URLs (94%) were hosted on a free-to-use service where no payment was required to create an account or upload the content. In the remaining 6% of cases, the content was hosted on a paid-for service, or it was not possible to tell whether the hosting was free or paid for.

Domain analysis


Geographical hosting