According to a report from the The Wall Street Journal and academic researchers social media platform, Instagram has been accused of helping to facilitate connections between a “vast pedophile network.”
The WSJ, alongside researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, reported that Instagram allowed and promoted accounts that openly buy and commission “underage-sex content.”
“Instagram connects pedophiles and guides them to content sellers via recommendation systems that excel at linking those who share niche interests, the Journal and the academic researchers found,” the outlet reported. “The researchers found that Instagram enabled people to search explicit hashtags such as #pedowhore and #preteensex and connected them to accounts that used the terms to advertise child-sex material for sale.”
Accounts would make avaialble “menus” that offered inappropriate content, including “imagery of the minor performing sexual acts with animals,” according to researchers from the Stanford Internet Observatory. Other “menus” reportedly offered videos of children hurting themselves or “meet-ups” with kids.
“Child exploitation is a horrific crime,” said Meta, the parent company of Instagram. “We’re continuously investigating ways to actively defend against this behavior.”
“Instagram’s problem comes down to content-discovery features, the ways topics are recommended, and how much the platform relies on search and links between accounts,” said David Thiel, the chief technologist at the Stanford Internet Observatory. “You have to put guardrails in place for something that growth-intensive to still be nominally safe, and Instagram hasn’t.”
“Instagram is an on ramp to places on the internet where there’s more explicit child sexual abuse,” said Brian Levine, the director of the UMass Rescue Lab.
Republican North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop called on the FBI to take action.
“Where is the [FBI]? Shouldn’t heinous crimes like this be its top priority? Or are they too busy classifying concerned parents as domestic extremists to bring down the hammer on these despicable criminals?” Bishop tweeted.
Where is the @FBI?
Shouldn't heinous crimes like this be its top priority?
Or are they too busy classifying concerned parents as domestic extremists to bring down the hammer on these despicable criminals?https://t.co/8E6XIPFBoM
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) June 7, 2023