The solution to porn on Instagram is more porn on Instagram

Scrubbing the Internet of filth isn't going to happen. So embrace it!

The Telegraph's Willard Foxton writes on the epidemic of smut slowly filling up Instagram:

A quick browse through tags like "handbra" brings up almost 500,000 images of young women using their hands to preserve their modesty – and that's just the shallow, softcore end of the pool. Look deeper if you like, but I warn you, it gets pretty shocking, pretty fast, even to a hardened internet veteran like me. . .

So, what's the problem with this? If like-minded adults want to swap nude pictures of one another, surely it's no-one else's concern? The trouble is, Instagram is hugely popular with the under-15s. Recently, an American parenting blog shared a chilling story about how easily children were being groomed through the service. . .

A spokesman for Instagram says: "We rely heavily on users to flag inappropriate content and we do our best to remove any media that we determine to be inappropriate."

Foxton suggests that, without the manpower to properly moderate the site, Instagram may go the same way as Habbo Hotel – which was exposed by Channel 4 News as being, well, not the safest place for kids to hang out.

But Habbo Hotel wasn't stymied by its failure to moderate. As the Channel 4 report shows, it actually employs 225 people to do just that – 15 times larger than Instagram's entire staff.

Habbo's failure was being aimed at kids while not being able to guarantee that safe space, but there's no reason why Instagram should fall prey to the same target. While the site may have a lot of younger users, that doesn't mean it has to completely sanitise itself, any more than TV or the internet itself should because they have kids using them.

The problem Instagram has isn't all the porn, but the fact that all that porn isn't labelled – and it won't ever be, because there's no motivation for uploaders to tag porn as such. The only way to mark porn is to report it as "inappropriate" and get it kicked off the site.

The solution to porn is more porn. Let people posting pictures of their naked selves to clearly mark it as such; let parents set filters on their children's accounts; and enforce stricter penalties against those who insist on uploading untagged porn. This is how Flickr dealt with adult content (before Yahoo killed it), offering "safe, moderate and restricted" as categories.

Besides, how could we live with ourselves if we scrubbed fake polaroid photos of handbras from the internet?

Some of the more explicit Instagram photos.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images/Christopher Furlong
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A dozen defeated parliamentary candidates back Caroline Flint for deputy

Supporters of all the leadership candidates have rallied around Caroline Flint's bid to be deputy leader.

Twelve former parliamentary candidates have backed Caroline Flint's bid to become deputy leader in an open letter to the New Statesman. Dubbing the Don Valley MP a "fantastic campaigner", they explain that why despite backing different candidates for the leadership, they "are united in supporting Caroline Flint to be Labour's next deputy leader", who they describe as a "brilliant communicator and creative policy maker". 

Flint welcomed the endorsement, saying: "our candidates know better than most what it takes to win the sort of seats Labour must gain in order to win a general election, so I'm delighted to have their support.". She urged Labour to rebuild "not by lookin to the past, but by learning from the past", saying that "we must rediscover Labour's voice, especially in communities wher we do not have a Labour MP:".

The Flint campaign will hope that the endorsement provides a boost as the campaign enters its final days.

The full letter is below:

There is no route to Downing Street that does not run through the seats we fought for Labour at the General Election.

"We need a new leadership team that can win back Labour's lost voters.

Although we are backing different candidates to be Leader, we are united in supporting Caroline Flint to be Labour's next deputy leader.

Not only is Caroline a fantastic campaigner, who toured the country supporting Labour's candidates, she's also a brilliant communicator and creative policy maker, which is exactly what we need in our next deputy leader.

If Labour is to win the next election, it is vital that we pick a leadership team that doesn't just appeal to Labour Party members, but is capable of winning the General Election. Caroline Flint is our best hope of beating the Tories.

We urge Labour Party members and supporters to unite behind Caroline Flint and begin the process of rebuilding to win in 2020.

Jessica Asato (Norwich North), Will Straw (Rossendale and Darween), Nick Bent (Warrington South), Mike Le Surf (South Basildon and East Thurrock), Tris Osborne (Chatham and Aylesford), Victoria Groulef (Reading West), Jamie Hanley (Pudsey), Kevin McKeever (Northampton South), Joy Squires (Worcester), Paul Clark (Gillingham and Rainham), Patrick Hall (Bedford) and Mary Wimbury (Aberconwy)

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.