Moral versus legal limits on images (of real children)

Not sure if this is the right place. Feel free to suggest moving it.

Ten years ago or so, the big question I thought people talked about was legality. Should fictional content be legal, what sort of penalties should there be, etc., what was the line of legality regarding “modeling sites”.

But lately I sense a concern with images that (by old definitions at least) were clearly legal but that people felt to be morally wrong to look at.

To me, one key question has been what the person who made the video and posted it was thinking and intending. If it was not intended to be erotic, then I’ve felt it was fair game to use for erotic purposes if you happen to find it erotic. This was especially true when there was no way for the subject or poster to find out how it was viewed. But I’ve felt that it was not actually morally problematic even if they do find out. One instance is, within a series of videos, much higher view counts for one that shows a child in a swimsuit. I felt that the YouTube actions to bar comments on children’s videos and to interrupt the algorithms that can lead a pedophile to related videos were not solving a moral problem but a political one. The public seems outraged to find pedophiles anywhere, except perhaps feeling miserable and cowering, focused on nothing but their potential to offend.

Anyway, I have heard various criteria offered. Was the video intended for wide consumption, or was it available simply because they did not know to restrict viewing permissions? Are they (mostly teen girls) deliberately doing things that are mildly erotic because they know it will get higher view counts? Was the material offered by someone with the understanding/intention of publicity (e.g. model, actress, singer) or was their presence just incidental, as in a family video posted to YouTube.

Some of these things may be up for consideration for actually becoming illegal, and some are incorporated in the terms of service of some private platform like YouTube. But I’m most interested in discussions of morality or “this just isn’t right” sort of considerations.

I’m particularly interested in places where people have tried to formulate a consistent set of rules to cover a wide variety of situations, or discussed the possibility of doing so.

This No Children Harmed certification - Prostasia Foundation seems to be the sort of thing I am looking for, though it covers far more ground than “what images a person could look at”.

I’m struggling with these questions. Good topic!

I only speak for myself and have the opinion, which I know is not popular, that anything that doesn’t directly harming another person should NOT be banned. Because adult people who use something without the intention of hurt anyone should not be harm to prevent the wrongdoers from committing their crimes. Authorities need to focus their time arresting those who commit crime and not taking freedom from those who do nothing wrong. This would include, but not be limited to: Weapons, Drugs, Alcohol, practically all types of censorship, and yes, CP.

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I think it becomes an issue when an actual minor is used to convey a sexual message. Like there are plenty of depictions that utilize naked images of children, but these images woudln’t be considered indecent, even outside the context they’re presented.
I have strong feelings about the pageant industry, the way children are exploited in modeling gigs, etc. and none of them are good, so I feel like some form of clarification from official sources would be good, but then again families still think it’s okay to force their children to ‘hug back’ and kiss their children on the lips… which is equally as uncomfortable.

Anything fictional is, of course, fine.

That’s probably the reason Cuties bombed as hard as it did.


Someone (it may have been PT Barnum or it may have been me) once said that all publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right. Add cute girls to that and you have a definite formula for success, so there you go. Besides, let’s be brutally honest. Was there anyone seriously criticizing Cuties – I mean the real hardcore haters – that didn’t fit the demographic of jealous older woman or repressed beta male?

I meant bombed as in it backlashed, hard.