Twitter In Hot Water After Lawsuit Shows Social Media Giant Didn’t Remove Explicit Images Of Children Because It ‘Didn’t Violate Policies’
Twitter has landed itself in hot water after the social media giant refused to remove pornographic images and videos of a teenage sex trafficking victim because they “didn’t find a violation” of the company’s “policies,” alleges a lawsuit.
The suit was filed in federal court by the victims mother in the Northern District of California and it claims not only did the company not pull the content but also profited off clips which showed a 13 year old engaging in sex acts that are a form of child sexual abuse or child porn.
The victim now 17, lives in Florida, and is only identified as John Doe who was between 13 and 14 when a sex trafficker, posing as a 16 year old female classmate, started chatting with him on Snapchat, the suit claims.
Doe and the traffickers allegedly exchanged nude photos before things turned into blackmail: If the teen didn’t send more sexually graphic photos and videos the material he’d sent would be shared with his “parent, coach, pastor” and others.
The suit states that Doe was under duress and continued to send videos of himself performing sex acts that included another child.
Court papers show that eventually Doe blocked the traffickers and they left him alone, but in 2019 the videos showed up on Twitter under two accounts that have been known to share child sexual abuse material.
The videos were reported to Twitter on a least three occasions beginning on December 25, 2019, yet they remained until federal law enforcement got involved.
Doe found out about the tweets in January of 2020 when his classmates, who had seen the videos, started “teasing, harassing”, and engaging in “vicious bullying.” That led Doe to become “suicidal,” court records show.
The lawsuit shows, Doe’s parents contacted the school and made police reports, he filed a report with Twitter, informing the company that two tweets contained child pornography of himself and they need to be taken down because they are “illegal, harmful and were in violation of the site’s policies.”
A Twitter support agent followed up and asked Doe for his ID to prove that it was him in the video. Doe’s mother also filed two separate complaints with twitter and received no response.
Court records show on January 28, 2020, Twitter replied that they wouldn’t be taking down the videos that had over 167,000 views and 2,223 retweets.
“Thanks for reaching out. We’ve reviewed the content, and didn’t find a violation of our policies, so no action will be taken at this time,” the response reads, according to the lawsuit.
“If you believe there’s a potential copyright infringement, please start a new report. If the content is hosted on a third-party website, you’ll need to contact that website’s support team to report it. Your safety is the most important thing, and if you believe you are in danger, we encourage you to contact your local authorities.”
Doe responded to twitter contesting that, “What do you mean you don’t see a problem? We both are minors right now and were minors at the time these videos were taken. We both were 13 years of age. We were baited, harassed, and threatened to take these videos that are now being posted without our permission. We did not authorize these videos AT ALL and they need to be taken down.”
The lawsuit states that Doe included his case number with local law enforcement however, he was completely ignored by Twitter.
According to the lawsuit, the video was not taken down until Doe’s mom was connected with an agent from the Department of Homeland Security through a “mutual contact” who was able to pressure Twitter to remove the videos on January 30, 2020.
The lawsuit is disturbing and if found to be true should result in a criminal probe of the company.
New York Post