Twitter, the platform’s staunchest critic of child sexual exploitation (CSE), has said it “takes child abuse seriously”. Teslarati in an exclusive interview.
Eliza Bleu is a survivor of human trafficking and an advocate for victims, especially children. Bleu has been pressuring Twitter to remove CSE material at scale for several years, and until Elon Musk was bought out, Twitter was slow to remove most of the content. He said Teslarati he is happy to see the new changes the platform is making under the new leadership of Elon Musk.
He noted that under the new management, Twitter “takes child abuse seriously.” However, much remains to be done. A lawsuit against the social media platform that began before Elon Musk bought it is ongoing. Plaintiffs John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 were minors who were sexually abused and videos of the abuse were posted on Twitter. When the two, now adults, begged Twitter to remove the content, Twitter refused.
The content, which the plaintiffs want Twitter to remove, has garnered more than 167,000 views and 2,223 retweets.
Bleu highlighted several key changes Twitter is making under its new leadership. The first changes were in its reporting system. In a tweet, Bleu made offers for Twitter, and so far the platform has implemented two of those offers. The first is a clear and easy report. Twitter has introduced two-click reporting for children who report their own abusive material.
Bleu noted that there should also be a separate tab for sexually abused adults. “There should be clear and separate reporting options for both adults and children who have been sexually abused.”
Easy Steps Twitter Can Take to Remove Child Sexual Exploitation Material:
1. Clear the easy report. (Two-click reporting for children reporting their own abusive material. Easy enough for a child.)
2. Prioritize the removal of child abuse reports first.
— Eliza (@elizableu) November 1, 2022
Another key issue where the platform has worked remarkably well is the removal of hashtags known to be used to sell CSE. These are the known hashtags used for CSE trading on the platform. In the video below, attorneys Lisa Haba and Peter Gentala, the two attorneys representing John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, explain how these labels are used.
These hashtags are mentioned in the claim and Teslarati researched them to see if the platform was actually deleting the content. We found that Twitter removes the majority of content; but there are still accounts requesting content.
Surprise! Wow! The most popular hashtag used to sell child sexual abuse material on Twitter has been almost completely purged.
— Eliza (@elizableu) November 20, 2022
The screenshot below shows Twitter removing content from the “Most Recent” tabs for one of those top hashtags. The icons for “Photos” and “Videos” were also empty. However, the Top Tweets section still had requests for CSE and used several other tags. Unfortunately, some of those tags are still very active. Bleu noted that predators will continue to post using different tags, but those tags can help authorities catch criminals — which is one reason. Teslarati does not publish tags.
In his tweet thread, Bleu noted that some tags outside the top three are actively involved in sharing and posting illegal content. Bleu said Teslarati Twitter’s new sense of urgency gives him hope.
“After years of advocating for child survivors on Twitter, I have never been more hopeful. I don’t expect perfection from a platform. All I wanted was to see a sense of urgency around such a serious issue. “In many of these cases, it’s a matter of life or death for each victim, so every second counts.”
Bleu’s suggestion for Twitter is to continue prioritizing the removal of CSE content, review the reports, review all background on all reports, and work hand-in-hand with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He added that Twitter needs to innovate around this problem using all the technology available.
“There’s a lot of free technology that platforms are using and having a lot of success with,” Bleu said. His ultimate wish for Twitter and Elon Musk is to “solve this problem at scale without infringing on the digital privacy rights of innocent citizens.”
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