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Report Exposes Vast Network of Pedophilia on Meta’s Platforms  | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Published: June 12, 2023

Photo created by Alexander Shatov via Unsplash

Report Exposes Vast Network of Pedophilia on Meta’s Platforms 

By Movieguide® Contributor

New bombshell report finds that Instagram’s algorithm promotes pedophilia by connecting pedophiles with content sellers. 

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) worked with researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to uncover the “vast network of accounts openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage-sex content.” 

While the content is largely hidden from the average viewer, “Instagram enabled people to search explicit hashtags such as #pedowhore and #preteensex and connected them to accounts that used the terms to advertise child-sex material for sale.” 

“Such accounts often claim to be run by the children themselves and use overtly sexual handles incorporating words such as ‘little slut for you,’” the report found. 

Rather than post the explicit content directly to Instagram, the profiles would instead publish “menus” of content that buyers could commission. Some accounts even offered “meet ups” with the children, for the right price. 

After clicking on only one of these accounts, test accounts set up by the researchers would immediately be suggested other pedophilia accounts. “Following just a handful of these recommendations was enough to flood a test account with content that sexualizes children.” 

Using a network mapping tool, the researchers found that 112 seller accounts collectively had 22,000 unique followers. 

The selling and promotion of underage sexual material violate both Meta’s rules and federal law. However, Meta has difficulty regulating this material because of how prolific it is. A Meta spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the company took down 490,000 profiles in January alone for violating child safety policies. In the past two years, the company has also brought down 27 pedophile networks. 

While Meta has worked to remove some pedophilia, the continued abundance proves that the work they are doing is not enough. Compared to other social media sites, Meta’s platforms are uniquely abhorred in their approach to limiting pedophilia content. 

“Instagram’s problem comes down to content-discovery features, the way topics are recommended and how much the platform relies on search and links between accounts,” David Thiel, chief technologist at the Stanford Internet Observatory, said. “You have to put guardrails in place for something that growth-intensive to still be nominally safe, and Instagram hasn’t.” 

The platform, for example, allows users to search pedophilia-linked hashtags, and rather than bar users from seeing the results, Instagram would warn users that “these results may contain images of child sexual abuse,” while allowing them the option to continue anyway. 

Meta is also slow to act when reports of sexual exploitation are submitted. When an anti-pedophilia activist reported a post that said, “this teen is ready for you pervs,” Instagram responded with an automated message that said, “because of the high volume of reports we receive, our team hasn’t been able to review this post.” 

The burden of safety falls entirely on Meta. Not only are they responsible for regulating their site, but they are also the ones with the data needed to track and punish those seeking and selling pedophilia content.  

While the vast network of pedophilia is invisible to the average user on Meta’s platforms, it is known and seen by Meta itself. The publishing of the WSJ report will hopefully force the company to make a change that punishes those involved in the selling and seeking of pedophilia content. 

Movieguide® previously reported Meta’s failure to properly regulate their platforms: 

In 2020, Meta was slammed with a $5 billion fine for failure to provide transparency about its business practices. The company was punished for misleading users about their privacy for years.  

The FTC announced on Wednesday that Meta “has failed to fully comply with the [2020] order, misled parents about their ability to control with whom their children communicated through its messenger Kids app, and misrepresented the access it provided some app developers to private user data.”  

The announcement also alleges that Meta violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  

“Facebook has repeatedly violated its privacy promises,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said. “The company’s recklessness has put younger users at risk, and Facebook needs to answer for its failures.”  

Meta’s response to these allegations has been calling them a political move.  

“This is a political stunt,” Meta responded in a statement. “Despite three years of continual engagement with the FTC around our agreement, they provided no opportunity to discuss this new, totally unprecedented theory. Let’s be clear about what the FTC is trying to do: usurp the authority of Congress to set industry-wide standards and instead single out one American company while allowing Chinese companies, like TikTok, to operate without constraint on American soil.”   

“FTC Chair Lina Khan’s insistence on using any measure –however baseless— to antagonize American business has reached a new low. We have spent vast resources building and implementing an industry-leading privacy program under the terms of our FTC agreement. We will vigorously fight this action and expect to prevail,” Meta’s statement continued.  

The FTC’s allegations center around data revealing that Meta allowed app developers to access users’ private data after promising to cut off access if users had not used those apps in the previous 90 days. In some cases, this access continued into mid-2020.

Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

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