Twitter Will Not Remove Child Pornography Because It Does Not “Violate Policies”
Photo By Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash
Twitter is being sued by a minor and his mother after refusing to delete widely viewed pornographic images and videos of a teenage sex trafficking victim. Twitter’s reasoning for refusing to take the graphic content down was that an investigation “didn’t find a violation” of the company’s “policies.”
The lawsuit, Doe v Twitter, was filed on Jan. 26 in the Northern District of California. The lawsuit alleges that Twitter made profit off of the explicit videos, among other complaints. The videos in question were viewed on the social media platform over 160,000 times.
The teen, identified as “John Doe” in court records, was only 13 years old when the videos were taken. Doe said he was manipulated into sending the nude videos and pictures over Snapchat, to who he believed was a 16 year old classmate.
After sending the original content, the lawsuit alleges “the correspondence changed to blackmail.” Doe said the perpetrators demanded additional materials, and if he didn’t comply they would send the content they had with his “parents, coach, pastor, and others in his community.”
Eventually, Doe blocked the traffickers on Snapchat and cut off contact with them.
In 2019, the nude videos and images of John Doe surfaced on Twitter. At least two accounts that were known for posting child sexual abuse material, posted a “compilation video” that included content extorted from Doe.
The videos were reported at least three times during the month they were posted, starting on Dec. 25, 2019, but Twitter did not take the content off of their site.
Doe became aware of the material on Twitter in Jan. 2020, after it was viewed by a majority of his classmates, leading to “teasing, harassment, vicious bullying.” His classmates’ behavior led him to become suicidal.
Doe’s parents filed police reports and contacted the school, while Doe filed a complaint with Twitter. The social media site requested a copy of his ID to ensure he was the victim in the video, to which he provided.
One Jan. 28, Twitter responded to Doe saying:
“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 videos had received over 167,000 views and 2,223 retweets at that point.
Doe responded saying, “What do you mean you don’t see a problem?,” and further explained to the giant tech company that the explicit video of nude minors was posted without permission. He included his case number from a local law enforcement agency, but was allegedly still ignored by Twitter.
Doe’s mother was connected with Homeland Security on Jan. 30, who had successfully removed the video. After the removal, Twitter suspended the two accounts that posted the video. This was also the point that Twitter relayed Doe’s case to National Center Missing and Exploited Children.
The official complaints of the lawsuit include: benefitting from a sextrafficking venture in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, Violation of duty of report child sexual abuse material, Receipt and distribution of child pornography, and California products liability.