Charity accuses Twitter of being the worst offender for harboring indecent images of minors

Twitter disagrees with the findings.


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The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) claims that Twitter is the worst offender when it comes to allowing content related to sexual abuse of children on its platform. Out of 2,835 such incidents, 1,396 happened on this social media site, the UK-based charity said in a report.

That's nearly half of all images, videos and links of this type of content shared on the web.

Moreover, each incident can potentially involve any number of photos and videos, if Twitter or other social media platforms are used to share links leading to illegal websites.

The IWF, whose mission is to detect child abuse content and have it removed, said that it looked at social websites, search engines, and cloud storage – content that's openly available on the web. Microsoft's search engine Bing, Amazon, and Google followed Twitter with 604, 375, ad 348 incidents. The data the IWF is dealing with concerns the period between 2016 and 2018.

But Twitter has disagreed with these findings, calling IWF's data inaccurate and its metrics unreliable. According to a spokesperson, the report is flawed because it used “one data standard across all services, social platforms, file hosting platforms, and search engines.”

Twitter also claims to be working proactively to suppress those disseminating child abuse content, whom the company said are often “sophisticated bad actors.”

But the report suggested it was Twitter's automated filters that were failing here, allowing this content to be openly shared.

Microsoft also reacted to the report, emphasizing the work it does to remove illegal content and suggesting that data from 2018 is now obsolete because it doesn't take into account “improvements made as a result of reports and routine diligence over the course of the current year.”

Amazon, for its part, noted that a majority of offending content had been found on its cloud storage service and that the company acts to swiftly remove it upon receiving reports about such incidents.

The IWF – whose top donors include Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, while Twitter is also a contributor, but on a lower tier – defended its report as accurate.

CEO Susie Hargreaves said the organization was prepared to make the data it works with available to scrutiny, i.e., to independent inspection that can be carried out by a team that includes “a law enforcement auditor and High Court judge.”

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]
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