In the latest development after Elon Musk took over, Twitter bans 44,611 accounts that promoted child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity in India from September 26 to October 25.
Earlier, the micro-blogging platform banned 52,141 such accounts from August 26 to September 25, and also took down 4,014 accounts for promoting terrorism in India.
Musk has expressed grave concerns over the presence of tweets soliciting child pornography, and even influential podcaster Liz Wheeler, had taken to Twitter to praise Musk, for purging the site of “child pornography and child trafficking hashtags.” Yet, critics feel the micro-blogging site has been laidback about the urgent situation.
Can we take a moment & thank @elonmusk for ridding Twitter of child pornography & child trafficking hashtags? Of all the battles he’s fighting, this is the most important. Think about how many little children he’s saving from sexual abuse, exploitation & torture. I could cry. 🙏🏼— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) November 21, 2022
Looming problem: Twitter manpower
A recent report showed that one team handling child sexual abuse content on the platform for the Asia Pacific region—which has a population of 4.3 billion and includes Japan, the country with the second most Twitter users after the US—is literally down to just one employee.
Twitter—that allows adult pornography, but doesn’t have the technology to distinguish consenting adults from children without human staff—simply needs in-house help. Organisations like Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children don’t have access to the internal data, detection code, and other tools that Twitter can use to prevent child sexual abuse from being shared in the first place.
Child sexual abuse content is already eating into Twitter’s business: Both Dyson and Forbes have suspended advertising on the platform after their ads appeared directly next to child abuse content.
During this period, the company suspended over half a million accounts for disseminating child exploitation content, marking a 31 per cent increase from the previous six months.
In October, Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal had said the replies received from Twitter in the child pornography complaints were incomplete, and the Commission was not satisfied with them.
"I am shocked with the kind of rape and child pornographic videos available freely on Twitter. The nauseating material needs to be immediately removed from Twitter and FIR should be registered by Delhi Police in the matter. Systems must be developed so that all such videos are immediately deleted and the perpetrators reported to the law enforcement agencies. Twitter must be held accountable for this filthy and objectionable content being available and even sold on its platform," said Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chief Swati Maliwal in a press briefing, end of September.
Complying to IT rules
Under the new IT Rules 2021, big digital and social media platforms, with more than 5 million users, have to publish monthly compliance reports. Twitter, in its monthly report in compliance with the 2021 IT Rules, said that it received 582 complaints from users in India in the same time-frame, and took action on 20 of those URLS. In the earlier August 26-September 25 period, when Twitter received 157 complaints, it took action against 129 URLS.
In its new report, Twitter said that it processed 61 grievances that were appealing Twitter account suspensions. "We overturned none of these account suspensions after reviewing the specifics of the situation," said the company.