After declaring that "removing child exploitation is priority #1" back in November, Twitter's newly-minted CEO Elon Musk is reportedly yet again not doing much in terms of living up to his many promises.
As The New York Times spotlights in a shocking new report, child abuse content is running rampant on the social media network.
According to the NYT's investigation, images of child sexual exploitation (CSE) have persisted on the platform and are still widely circulating — despite Musk's lofty promises of combating the issue with "Twitter 2.0."
One glaring issue is the fact that Musk fired many of those who were intimately familiar with the issue. Worse yet, the company has since given up on paying for software that was key to Twitter's anti-child abuse strategy.
"If you let sewer rats in," Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s online safety commissioner, told the NYT, "you know that pestilence is going to come."
Musk's head of safety Ella Irwin, however, claims Twitter's efforts are paying off, with her department tweeting last week that the company had turned to a "more aggressive" approach, while "proactively and severely limiting the reach of any content that we detect may contain CSE material."
Twitter Safety claims it has removed around "404,000 accounts" in January alone that have "created, distributed, or engaged with this content, which represents a 112 percent increase in CSE suspensions since November."
But as it turns out, these accounts were never reported to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, since they didn't meet the threshold of "knowingly transmitting" illegal imagery, according to Irwin.
Meanwhile, Twitter has only been reporting roughly 8,000 accounts every month to the center.
As Irwin admits herself, CSE content still runs rampant on the site, telling the NYT that "we absolutely know that we are still missing some things that we need to be able to detect better."
But, as the NYT found — using software Twitter developed itself to detect problematic content — videos of CSE are still garnering well over 100,000 views.
"Considering the focus Musk has put on child safety, it is surprising they are not doing the basics," Stanford Internet Observatory director Alex Stamos told the publication.
"The volume we’re able to find with a minimal amount of effort is quite significant," Lloyd Richardson, the technology director for the Canadian Center for Child Protection, added.
To be clear, Twitter's track record even before Musk took over hadn't been stellar either — and it's far from the only company facing the problem. CSE material still spreads on a wide swath of social networks.
But given Musk's outsize promises, it's strange to see Twitter doing so little.
READ MORE: Musk Pledged to Cleanse Twitter of Child Abuse Content. It’s Been Rough Going. [The New York Times]
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