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Twitter’s Child Porn Problem Just Got Drastically Worse

Social media company Twitter just got some more bad news on the child porn front. Another plaintiff has joined the lawsuit accusing the online platform of profiting from sexually explicit material involving minors.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center (NCOSE) on Thursday announced that another individual came forward with trafficking allegations against the social media company. According to a released statement:

The plaintiff, John Doe #2, joins the federal lawsuit originally filed by John Doe #1, alleging that both boys were trafficked by Twitter. The First Amended Complaint, John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 v. Twitter, Inc. was filed on April 7 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Both plaintiffs were harmed by Twitter’s distribution of material depicting their sexual abuse and trafficking, and by Twitter’s knowing refusal to remove the images of their sexual abuse (child pornography) when notified by John Doe #1 and his parents.

Peter Gentala, senior legal counsel for the NCOSE said: “Twitter has profited from the knowing distribution of child sexual abuse material depicting these two young men when they were children, and it must be held accountable. Twitter cannot sweep under the rug the fact that it both allowed child sexual abuse material on its site and refused to remove it.”

Both plaintiffs stated they were recruited for sex trafficking when they were minors. They eventually escaped, but video footage showing their exploitation was still distributed on the social media platform.

NCOSE’s statement explains:

When Twitter was first alerted to this fact and the ages of the children, Twitter refused to remove the illegal material and instead continued to promote and profit from the sexual abuse of the children. Twitter even reported back to John Doe #1 that the video in question did not in fact violate any of their policies. This lack of care and proper attention resulted in the child sexual abuse material of John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 accumulating over 167,000 views before direct involvement from a law enforcement officer, who was finally able to have Twitter remove the child pornography material.

The plaintiffs are alleging that Twitter was involved in and profited from their victimization. This would be a violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and other measures.

Lisa Haba, a partner at the Haba Law Firm, which is also a part of the legal action, said: “These two young men have suffered severe anguish and trauma at the hands of Twitter. Twitter had everything it needed to do the right thing and prioritize the safety and privacy of these children before its own profits. Our lawsuit seeks to hold Twitter accountable for knowingly profiting from the sexual abuse and trafficking of children and the re-victimization of these two boys.”

In January, the first plaintiff, John Deo #1, filed a lawsuit against Twitter for its refusal to remove sexually inappropriate material featuring the 17-year-old boy, who was 13 at the time the footage was filmed. Despite numerous requests, the social media giant claimed that the content did not violate its terms and conditions. (See: New Lawsuit: Twitter Refused to Remove Child Porn Because It Doesn’t ‘Violate Policies’)

Twitter continues to come under fire for its inexplicable policy regarding child porn. While removing such material – especially at the behest of the victim – seems like a no-brainer given the fact that the company would lose nothing by purging illicit content from their platform. Moreover, it seems odd that the company’s leadership did not anticipate a lawsuit or negative press when crafting the policy.

Regardless of Twitter’s motivations, the company appears to be in for a tense legal battle. Indeed, these two plaintiffs may not even be the only individuals who come forward. Either way, this story is shaping up to be a significant issue for the company and likely other social media platforms as well.

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