On January 27, 2022 Movement Director Melinda Tankard Reist and campaigner Lyn Swanson Kennedy gave evidence at a public hearing for the Inquiry into Social Media and Online Safety. The House Select Committee is currently compiling evidence for its report on online harms to Australians, due February 15.
Video: MTR addresses social media inquiry
From MTR's opening statement:
Social media platforms have not done enough to protect children from those who use these platforms to harm them. These mega corporations have facilitated and enabled predatory and grooming behaviours, sexualisation, fetishisation, eroticisation and sexual harassment directed at minors. Platforms most popular with young people have served as gateways to pornography. They are commercially mediating the abuse of children and have failed to be accountable or transparent about this.
These social media companies have been allowed to act like rogue states for too long. They have failed to regulate themselves in the interests of consumers, especially young people. There is a pressing need for independent regulation beyond profit-driven vested interests.
MTR highlighted our own findings of child exploitation on Instagram:
The fact is that these big tech corporations have put profits before the wellbeing of the community. We are still finding thousands of predators, thousands of would-be groomers. We're still finding child sexual exploitation material. Really, if governments care about the wellbeing of vulnerable young people especially, then they really have no choice but to bring what I've called in my opening statement essentially rogue states into line. We've seen the evidence of the whistleblower Frances Haugen. What better evidence than what she has provided that Facebook has not done enough to protect the most vulnerable?
Lyn told the inquiry that while Meta had added tools aimed at improving safety for young people, the measures did not go far enough. Instagram continues to connect underage and even pre-teen girls directly to predators:
Our investigations have uncovered live posts in which men have performed sex acts to a child audience across the globe and commanded pre-teen girls to dance for them, get naked and send nude photos and made comments about their bodies and body parts or commented on their personal pages with rape, torture and other sexual abuse comments. There are what we call 'parasite pages', which are so-called fan accounts or shoutout accounts reposting images of little girls in bikinis alongside pornographic-style images of adults. And girls' Instagram content and personal information—names, birth dates and places where they live—is being reshared to paedophile forums on the open web. Some were toddlers.
On deepfakes, we have evidence that girls—so-called Instagram models, pre-teen models—are having their Instagram content 'scraped' to turn it into child exploitation material for publication on porn sites.
Read the full transcript here.