"Instagram and Twitter failing to crack down on paedophiles stealing photos of child influencers"
November 6, 2022
Social media giants are failing to crack down on paedophiles who steal photos of child influencers and use them on fake profiles to network with others who have a sexual interest in children.
An i investigation found dozens of accounts on Twitter and Instagram that displayed stolen images of children with sexualised comments beneath them, some typed out with emojis.
Public accounts on Instagram had thousands of followers containing photos and videos of pre-teen girls, some where they were modelling or dancing, that were typically stolen from the profiles of their parents or guardians.
Ms Kennedy said social media companies are “very, very, very slow and reluctant to act” when she reports exploitative content, either saying they did not have time to review it, or that AI or human moderators decided it did not go against community guidelines.
“Meta claims there’s ‘no place’ for child exploitation on its platforms. At the same time, it facilitates it. It is absolutely failing children,” she said. “These platforms cannot claim to care about children’s safety while they service networks of child predators and aid the growing, global trade in child exploitation material.”
She added: “Meta know they have a problem on their platforms but are failing to tackle accounts, posts and comments that are obviously facilitating child sexual abuse.”
“Anytime a child’s content is publicly available – meaning they don’t have privacy settings set to the maximum levels and people can engage with their content without approval – you are essentially giving predators open access to a child’s content,” said Ms Kennedy, from Collective Shout.
One after another..this is how @Instagram promos pre teen girls' reels. Some are toddlers; some have hundreds of thousands of views. They are accompanied by predatory/sex abuse comments +digital 'breadcrumbs' - signposts for paedophile networks + CSAM. @Meta fails girls. @mosseri pic.twitter.com/Jc5OLp1waV— Collective Shout (@CollectiveShout) November 10, 2022
The charity, based in Australia but monitoring global online abuse, published a report this month that documented large networks of men scraping content from girls’ Instagram and TikTok accounts before posting it onto Twitter, where it is used to generate sexual discussions and commentary.
While it is impossible to verify whether the victims were asked for their consent, the report states: “We suspect in most instances the content is taken and re-shared non-consensually.”
Ms Kennedy described the internet as “a bottomless pit of risk for little girls”, explaining that although young boys are exploited too, it is largely images of young girls that are stolen by predominantly older men.
Child influencers who are aspiring models, dancers or gymnasts are particularly at risk because their content is readily available on mainstream social media, said Ms Kennedy, who is calling for parent-run accounts to be banned.
Social media companies including Meta, TikTok and Twitter are currently under no legal obligation to remove “harmful but legal” content, meaning images that are technically legal but which may be facilitating child exploitation can be allowed to go unchecked.
The Online Safety Bill– due to return to Parliament this month – is expected to hold social media companies financially accountable for tackling content that might appear innocent on the surface but provides a gateway to child exploitation.
Read the full article here.
Media features: National coverage of our Instagram + Etsy investigations
We reported 100 pieces of child exploitation content to Instagram - they removed just three
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