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A New Sheriff in Town: Musk Targets Child Sex Exploitation on Twitter as 'Priority #1'

11-22-2022
The Twitter page of Elon Musk, April 25, 2022. On Monday, Musk reached an agreement to buy Twitter for about $44 billion. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
The Twitter page of Elon Musk, April 25, 2022. On Monday, Musk reached an agreement to buy Twitter for about $44 billion. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

For newly minted Twitter CEO and owner Elon Musk, overhauling the controversy-plagued social media site is serious business. And now he says "priority #1" is removing child sexual exploitation content from the platform.

Under the helm of former owner Jack Dorsey, Twitter did not put much effort into combating content that promoted the exploitation of children.
 
For example, Eliza Bleu, a survivor of human trafficking and an advocate for victims, tweeted in September that Twitter initially did not remove a video of a 13-year-old boy being exploited–even after the young man reached out to the platform's executives.

It took nine days for the company to remove the video and that was largely in part due to the intervention of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent, Business Insider reports.

Bleu has been instrumental in calling out the platform for allowing child sex abusers to post content on the site. According to a site named Tesmanian, which follows Musk's many projects and companies, Bleu has been trying to remove child porn on the app for two years while other advocates have been pressuring the platform for more than 10 years.

Their efforts have fallen on deaf ears until now.

Less than a month after taking over the site, Musk "cleaned out" the three most popular hashtags that had been used to sell child sexual abuse material and added a direct reporting option for child sexual exploitation.

Earlier this week, Bleu tweeted the headline of an opinion article by Donna Rice Hughes published by The Hill that read, "Protecting Children from Sexual Exploitation is a Low Priority for Twitter and DOJ". The article was published before the site was sold to Musk.

Musk replied directly to Bleu's tweet writing, "Priority #1".
 

Bleu says the CEO's response to taking down child trafficking material is "huge."

"Ah how suddenly things can change," she tweeted.

Twitter's child sexual exploitation policy currently says that it has "zero tolerance towards any material that features or promotes child sexual exploitation, one of the most serious violations of the Twitter Rules."

Tesmanian suggests that Bleu's expertise would be useful in pulling child porn from the platform.

"Solving an existing problem is not as easy as it might seem at first glance, and there are many pitfalls in this process. As someone who works intensively to combat the problem and has knowledge in this area, Eliza can give advice on how to clear CSE material on Twitter and hopes to share her knowledge with Musk," it reads. "In addition, she believes that the technologies and AI that Tesla is developing can help solve the problem globally, and not just within the platform."

Meanwhile, Meta, the technology company behind Facebook and Instagram, published an article Monday stating they are now increasing efforts to "protect teens from interacting with potentially suspicious adults."

They say, "We're working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to build a global platform for teens who are worried intimate images they created might be shared on public online platforms without their consent. This platform will be similar to work we have done to prevent the non-consensual sharing of intimate images for adults."

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