Twitter ‘takes child exploitation seriously’, says the platform’s toughest critic on child sexual exploitation (CSE) Teslarati in an exclusive interview.
Eliza Bleu is a survivor of human trafficking and an advocate for victims, especially children. Blue has been lobbying Twitter for several years to remove CSE material on a massive scale, and until the acquisition of Elon Musk, Twitter was slow to remove most content. She said Teslarati that she is happy to see the new changes the platform is implementing under the new leadership of Elon Musk.
She pointed out that under new management, Twitter “takes child exploitation seriously.” However, there is still a lot of work to do. There is an ongoing lawsuit against the social media platform which started before Elon Musk bought it. The complainants, John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 were minors who were sexually exploited, and videos of this exploitation were posted on Twitter. When the two, who are now adults, begged Twitter to remove the content, Twitter refused.
The content the plaintiffs wanted Twitter to remove had over 167,000 views and 2,223 retweets.
Blue highlighted a few key changes Twitter has made under its new leadership. The first changes were made to its notification system. In a tweet thread, Blue made suggestions for Twitter, and so far the platform has implemented two of those suggestions. The first is a clear and easy report. Twitter has set up a two-click reporting system for kids reporting their own abuse material.
Blue noted that there must also be a separate tab for adult victims of sexual exploitation. “It must be crystal clear for adults and child victims of sexual exploitation, and reporting options must be distinct.”
Easy steps Twitter could take to remove child sexual exploitation material:
1. Clear and easy reports. (Two-click report for children reporting their own abuse material. Easy enough for a child.)
2. Prioritize removing reports of child exploitation first.
—Eliza (@elizableu) November 1, 2022
The other key issue that the platform has noticeably worked on is removing hashtags that are known to be used to sell CSE. These are known hashtags that are 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 tags are used.
These hashtags are mentioned in the lawsuit, and Teslarati investigated them to see if the platform was actually removing the content. We found that Twitter removes most content; however, there are still accounts that post content requests.
Wow! The most popular hashtag used to sell child sexual abuse material on Twitter is almost completely cleaned up.
—Eliza (@elizableu) November 20, 2022
The screenshot below shows that Twitter removed content from the “Latest” tabs for one of these top hashtags. The “Photos” and “Videos” tabs were also empty. However, the “Top Tweets” section still contained CSE requests and used several other tags. Unfortunately, some of these tags are still very active. Blue noted that predators will continue to post using a variety of beacons, but beacons could help authorities catch criminals – which is one of the reasons why. Teslarati does not publish tags.
In his tweet thread, Blue noted that some of the tags outside of the top three actively engage in sharing and posting illegal content. Blue says Teslarati may Twitter’s new sense of urgency give him hope.
“After years of advocating for underage survivors on Twitter, I’ve never been more hopeful than I am right now. I don’t expect perfection from a platform. All I’ve ever wanted is c “It’s seeing a sense of urgency around such a serious matter. In many of these cases, it’s a matter of life or death for each victim, so every second counts.”
Blue’s suggestion for Twitter is to continue to prioritize removing CSE content, review reports, review all backlogs of all reports, and work hand in hand with the National Center for missing and exploited children. She added that Twitter should innovate around this issue using all available technology.
“There are many free technologies available that platforms use that have had great success,” Blue added. His final request for Twitter and Elon Musk is “to tackle this problem at scale without violating the digital privacy rights of innocent citizens.”
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