Photo-and-video-sharing social networking site Instagram is said to be the main platform on which pedophile networks advertise and market content showing child sexual abuse, a report by Stanford University and the Wall Street Journal states.
“Large networks of accounts that appear to be operated by minors are openly advertising self-generated child sexual abuse material for sale,” researchers at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center said.
The researchers shared that Instagram’s features including recommendation algorithms and direct messaging play an integral role in these networks as it helps connect buyers and sellers.
On the other hand, a report by the Wall Street Journal states that accounts that advertise content showing the sexual abuse of minors can be easily found by searching for sexually explicit keywords referencing children.
The article detailed that these accounts are openly advertising self-generated sexual abuse material for sale while claiming to be handled by the minor themselves using a sexual pseudonym.
It also shared that other social networking sites including micro-blogging site Twitter and messaging app Telegram allow this implicit trading through private channels.
As a response, Instagram’s parent company Meta started a task force to investigate and facilitate content regarding child sexual abuse. Meta said that it imposed strict policies and technology to prevent pedophiles from interacting with minors.
In addition, they shared that they had dismantled 27 abusive networks between 2020 and 2022 – disabling more than 490,000 accounts for violating its child safety policies in January.
“We work aggressively to fight it on and off our platforms, and to support law enforcement in its efforts to arrest and prosecute the criminals behind it,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement.
In 2023, the number of Instagram users is slated to have an annual increase of 5.47% from 2022’s 1.28 billion and is expected to hit 1.44 billion by 2025 – making it one of the most used social networking sites around the world.
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