According to Reuters, major brands such as Mazda, PBS Kids, Dyson, Forbes, and DIRECTV recently suspended or removed their marketing campaigns or advertisements from parts of Twitter after learning that their promotions appeared alongside tweets soliciting child sexual abuse material (CSAM), also known as child pornography.
It was reported that 30 advertisers appeared next to the profile pages of Twitter accounts active in selling and soliciting CSAM, including Walt Disney Company, Coca-Cola, and NBCUniversal. Company executives were "horrified" to discover that sexually exploitative tweets with key words like "rape" and "teens" appeared alongside promoted tweets from corporate advertisers.
In one case, a promoted tweet for the shoe and accessory brand Cole Haan appeared alongside a tweet in which a user stated that they were "trading teen/child" content. Cole Haan brand president David Maddocks told Reuters, "Either Twitter will fix this, or we'll fix it any way we can, including not buying Twitter ads."
Despite Twitter's claim of "zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation," the company's failure to identify and remove CSAM has been a long-standing issue. Twitter's toothless policies are meaningless unless enforced.
Unfortunately, Twitter receives a "F" for failing to respond to victims whose videos and photographs of torturous child sex abuse appear on Twitter. Twitter, on the other hand, claims that it cannot be held liable for disseminating illegal content.
A federal lawsuit has been filed against Twitter on behalf of two minors who were trafficked on their site (John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 v. Twitter). Illegal images were shared and posted on Twitter. Both plaintiffs' videos reportedly had 167,000 views before law enforcement intervened and Twitter removed the video. When the first complaints were made to Twitter, instead of removing the exploitative videos, Twitter did nothing, even reporting back to the family of John Doe #1 that the video in question did not violate any of their policies. According to the lawsuit, "Twitter has enabled and profited from CSAM on its platform, putting profits ahead of people, money ahead of children's safety, and wealth ahead of human freedom and human dignity."
Furthermore, Twitter is a haven for a thriving network of explicit pornography, which reportedly accounts for 13% of all content on Twitter. According to Twitter's Safety and Cybercrime Center, "pornography and other forms of consensually produced adult content are permitted on Twitter, provided that this media is labeled as sensitive." It defies logic to expect Twitter to be able to determine whether "consensually produced adult content" is, in fact, "consensual," and whether those depicted in the images are, in fact, adults.
In addition, today's mainstream pornography is not protected speech under the First Amendment because it depicts rape, incest, torture, group sex, strangulation, bestiality, and eroticized racism, which is deemed obscene under US Federal Law. Nonetheless, any child with a Twitter account (which can be easily created by using a fictitious birthdate) has complete access to graphic and illegal pornography.
Twitter has no business operating until it joins the ranks of other platforms that are taking greater steps to protect the innocence of children on the internet as a display of corporate responsibility, and advertisers should follow the lead of other brands that have suspended or stopped their advertising.
Let’s fight for the dignity and innocence of our children!