A paid-for ad on Gumtree NI for Camsea, an adult video chat app, seen on 27 May 2023, featured a collage of three cropped images showing the face and upper body of a young woman lying down. Each image showed her looking up, away from the camera, and one showed her covering her mouth with a fearful expression on her face. One of the images contained a graphic of a recording button with the text ‘Live’.
The complainant, who believed the model looked under 18 years of age and appeared vulnerable, challenged whether the ad breached the Code because, by promoting a chat service, the ad portrayed someone who seemed to be under 18 in a sexual way.
Mitu Inc Ltd t/a Camsea did not reply to the ASA’s enquiries.
Gumtree said ads on their website were served through third-party ad networks. They had safety measures in place and proactively blocked all content and brands that were sexually suggestive in nature. Categorisation of the advertised product had bypassed their blocking system, but they had now taken action to block the advertiser to prevent a reoccurrence of the ad. No one had complained to them directly.
The ASA was concerned by Mitu Inc Ltd’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The CAP Code stated that ads should not portray or represent anyone who is, or seemed to be, under 18 years old in a sexual way.
The ASA understood that the app Camsea was a live video call chat app where users could match and chat with strangers, which was rated as 17+ due to its mature themes, sexual content and nudity. We considered that, given the age and content ratings, the app likely contained adult content which was sexual in nature.
The ad contained three images of a young woman that showed her lying down. We considered that her overall demeanour, including her facial features, smooth skin, and hairstyle, gave her the appearance of being under-18. We had not received any information that specified her age. In each image, she was looking away from the camera and in one of the images she was covering her mouth. We considered that in one of the images she appeared fearful, and that covering her mouth, in conjunction with looking away from the camera, depicted her with an air of vulnerability. We also considered that the inclusion of the recording button and the text ‘Live’ in the ad suggested that the woman was taking part in a live video call on the app.
We considered that by including a model who appeared to be under 18, both using and promoting an adult service, portrayed her in a sexual way, and we therefore concluded the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 1.7 (Unreasonable delay) and 4.8 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Mitu Inc Ltd t/a Camsea to ensure future ads did not include images that portrayed or represented anyone who was, or seemed to be under 18 years of age in a sexual way. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.