After acquisition, Elon Musk taking down child sexual exploitation content from Twitter


New Delhi: After Elon Musk took over Twitter on 27 October this year, the social media giant has started “taking child exploitation seriously” and issues related to such similar content are being addressed and removed at a faster pace.

This comes after years of the inactivity by Twitter on the subject under the previous management who did not comprehensively addressed the matter of publishing content that demonstrates child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Twitter has been slow to remove CSE content

Eliza Bleu, a survivor of human trafficking and an advocate for victims, especially children has been putting pressure on the microblooging site for several years to remove CSE content and till Musk’s acquisition, it has been slow to pull down most of the material.

In an interview to Tesmanian, Bleu said that for the past couple of years, she has been reaching out to Twitter to take concrete steps, but the platform has “not actually done anything meaningful to combat the problem”.

She further said that for ten years, Twitter has not had a proper reporting form for content containing child sexual abuse material.

‘Still much work to be done’

Bleu said that the new leadership under Musk is “taking child exploitation seriously”, but there is still much work to be done.

In a tweet, Bleu said, “Wow! The most popular hashtag used to sell child sexual abuse material on Twitter is almost completely cleaned out.”

In another thread she wrote, "Correction, the THREE biggest hashtags used by child abusers selling child sexual abuse material on Twitter have virtually been eliminated! This is huge!"

Last week, Twitter added a direct reporting option for child sexual exploitation. The option is only on tweets with content images/videos and notably, this was not previously available.

In another tweet, Bleu said, "Update: Some of the other hashtags (outside of the main three) are still actively engaging in sharing and posting illegal child exploitation. Please be mindful of this. It’s not over yet."

She further noted that there needs to be a separate tab for adults experiencing sexual exploitation as well. “It needs to be crystal clear for both adults and children experiencing sexual exploitation, and the reporting options need to be separate.”

Bleu expressed her happiness and said, “After years of advocating for the minor survivors of Twitter, I’ve never been as hopeful as I am right now. I don’t expect perfection from a platform. All I’ve ever wanted was to see a sense of urgency around such a serious matter. In many of these cases, this is a matter of life or death for each victim, so every second matters.”

She also suggested that Twitter should continue prioritising the removal of the CSE content, "go through reports, go over all the backlogs of all the reports, and work hand-in-hand with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children."

Bleu also said that Twitter should innovate around the issue using all the technology that’s available.

“There’s a lot of free technology available that platforms utilize and have had a lot of success,” Bleu said.

She said that her final request for Twitter and Musk is “to tackle this issue at scale without violating innocent citizens’ digital privacy rights.”

Twitter hashtags used for trading CSE on platform

There are known hashtags on Twitter that are used for trading CSE on the platform. It further came to light, after the plaintiffs, John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, who were minors, were sexually exploited and videos of that exploitation were posted to Twitter.

When the two, who are now adults, pleaded before Twitter to remove the content, the platform refused. There is an ongoing lawsuit against the social media platform that started before Musk purchased it.

With inputs from agencies

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After acquisition, Elon Musk taking down child sexual exploitation content from Twitter
After acquisition, Elon Musk taking down child sexual exploitation content from Twitter
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