According to Reuters, some leading brands, including Dyson, Mazda, Forbes, and PBS Kids, have stopped or removed their marketing campaigns or ads from sections of Twitter as their advertisements were placed alongside tweets inviting child pornography.
DIRECTV and Thoughtworks also told Reuters that they have suspended their advertising campaigns on Twitter.
Companies varying from Walt Disney Co, NBCUniversal and Coca-Cola Co to a children’s hospital were among the over 30 advertisers whose advertisements were placed on the profile pages of Twitter accounts that allegedly possessed linkages to the exploitative material, according to a Reuters review of the accounts that have been identified in new research about child sex abuse online from cybersecurity group Ghost Data.
According to the Reuters review, some of the tweets included key words related to “rape” and “teens,” and they appeared alongside promoted tweets from corporate advertisers. In one example, a promoted tweet for shoe and accessories brand Cole Haan popped up next to a tweet wherein a user said they were “trading teen/child” content.
“We’re horrified,” David Maddocks, brand president at Cole Haan, told Reuters after being notified that the company’s ads appeared alongside such tweets. “Either Twitter is going to fix this, or we’ll fix it by any means we can, which includes not buying Twitter ads.”
In another example, a user tweeted searching for content of “Yung girls ONLY, NO Boys,” which was followed immediately by a promoted tweet for Texas-based Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital.
There was no comment from Scottish Rite.
The company “has zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation”, Twitter spokesperson Celeste Carswell said In a statement, and added that Twitter is putting in greater quantity of resources solely to ensure child safety, including creating and appointing new positions for writing down policy for applying solutions.
She added that Twitter is working closely with its advertising clients and partners to investigate and take steps to prevent the situation from happening again.
Twitter’s challenges in identifying child abuse content were first reported in an investigation by tech news site The Verge in late August.
All posts depicting or representing child sexual exploitation is banned on Twitter just like all other social media platforms as such content and actions are illegal in almost all countries. Twitter however generally allows adult content and the platform has become a place that thrives on exchanging of pornographic images and this makes up about 13 per cent of all content on the platforms, said an internal company document which has been viewed by Reuters.
There was no comment from Twitter about the volume of adult content on the platform.
During a period of 20 days earlier this month, over 500 accounts that openly shared or requested child sexual abuse material were identified by Ghost Data.
According to the group, more than 70 per cent of those materials and accounts were not removed by Twitter during the time period of the study. The group also shared the findings with Reuters.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)