Elon Musk had said that tackling child sexual exploitation content on Twitter is a “number one priority” for him.
Musk, whose purchase of the $44 billion company has created a storm, was responding to a report shared by Twitter user EvaFoxU about how the company “has begun addressing the issue of posting child sexual exploitation content on Twitter after years of the platform’s inactivity on the subject under past management.”
The Twitter owner responded by saying the issue is “Priority #1” – a response that has been liked 246,000 times to date.
Elon Musk has begun addressing the issue of posting child sexual exploitation content on Twitter after years of the platform’s inactivity on the subject under past management #Twitter https://t.co/vTiQFMe8i3
— Ξva Fox 🦊Claudius Nero’s Legion 🐺 (@EvaFoxU) November 21, 2022
A human trafficking survivor, Eliza Blue told EvaFoxU that “the problem of publishing pornographic content showing child sexual exploitation (CSE) on various Internet resources is deeply disturbing.”
“While many platforms are fighting this by using tools that allow them to find and remove such content, Twitter, before it was bought by Elon Musk, did not put any real effort into this for years,” she said.
Ms Bleu said that for the past two years “she has been trying to get Twitter to take concrete steps, while other advocates have been working on this for 10 years.”
“All this time, Twitter has not actually done anything meaningful to combat the problem. For ten years, the platform has not had a proper reporting form for content containing child sexual abuse material,” she claimed.
She said that within weeks of Twitter being sold to Musk, “the three most popular hashtags used to sell child sexual abuse material on Twitter are almost completely cleaned out.”
She also noted that “last week Twitter also added a direct reporting option for child sexual exploitation (on tweets with content images/videos). This was not previously available and the reporting tool was difficult to find.”
Earlier this year, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said that there had been a huge rise in child sexual abuse content online – with incidents of children aged between seven and 10 being manipulated into recording abuse of themselves surging by two-thirds in the first 6 months of 2022.
The IWF’s chief executive, Susie Hargreaves, said that “Child sexual abuse, which is facilitated and captured by technology using an internet connection, does not require the abuser to be physically present, and most often takes place when the child is in their bedroom – a supposedly ‘safe space’ in the family home. Therefore, it should be entirely preventable,” she said.
“Only when the education of parents, carers and children comes together with efforts by tech companies, the government, police and third sector, can we hope to stem the tide of this criminal imagery.”
The IWF said that the fastest increase in self-generated imagery was among the seven to 10 age group, while the 11 to 13 age group generated the largest amount of such images reported by the IWF, with 56,000 images flagged in the first six months of the year. There was also an increase of 137% in self-generated images of boys aged between seven and 13.
Self-generated child sexual abuse imagery is typically created using webcams or smartphones and then shared online on a growing number of platforms. The IWF says children are groomed, deceived or extorted into producing an image or video of themselves.