Elon Musk is cracking down on child sexual abuse material on Twitter, saying he is making it “Priority #1.”
Before Musk bought the tech company in October, the censorship police at Twitter permitted child porn to exist on the app for years. Instead of combating the exploitation of children, Twitter employees focused their energy on silencing people with whom they disagreed, such as deleting doctors who deviated from the government and Big Pharma narrative on Covid, removing the sitting President of the United States Donald Trump, and suppressing the explosive Hunter Biden laptop story (which boosted then-candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 election).
In an interview with Tesmanian, Eliza Bleu, an advocate for human trafficking victims and a survivor of it herself, said she tried to get Twitter to address the child porn on the app for two years, but execs refused to take any meaningful steps. In February 2022, Twitter implemented a reporting feature for child sexual abuse but a few months later removed it. It is unclear why the tech giant removed the feature.
Now Musk is shaking things up at Twitter. Within three weeks of acquiring the company, Musk fired useless Twitter employees, such as “censor chief” Vijaya Gadde, and implemented real measures to counter the child sexual exploitation problem on the app. According to Bleu, Twitter has now removed several popular child porn hashtags and allows users to directly report posts for sexual abuse.
In a pre-Musk September Twitter thread, Bleu shared the heart-wrenching story of a 13-year-old minor who “begged Twitter to remove a video sexually exploiting him.” According to his family, Twitter execs refused despite the victim providing Twitter with his government ID proving he was a minor at the time. The abusive video had more than 160,000 views and more than 2,000 retweets, according to Bleu. The victim’s lawsuit alleges that Twitter only deleted the video after the Department of Homeland Security demanded it be removed.
Another child-abusing Twitter account the company reportedly didn’t remove for four years had accumulated 290,000 followers by the time it was taken down. Another abuser reportedly made $8,000 selling child porn on Twitter by blackmailing minors. Communications between the abusive Twitter user and his victims depict children “crying and begging” not to be exploited.
Today, many of Twitter’s speech police have either been fired or quit, and Musk has reinstated the accounts of formally banned thought criminals, such as Trump, Jordan Peterson, Project Veritas, and the Babylon Bee. Instead of silencing users whose politics don’t align with Twitter employees, Musk appears to be focusing on moderating content that is actually illegal and harmful.
“After years of advocating for the minor survivors of Twitter, I’ve never been as hopeful as I am right now,” Bleu said. “I don’t expect perfection from a platform. All I’ve ever wanted was to see a sense of urgency around such a serious matter. In many of these cases, this is a matter of life or death for each victim, so every second matters.”