Home Group Says Twitter Trails Other Social Networks In Fighting Pedophilia

Group Says Twitter Trails Other Social Networks In Fighting Pedophilia

A watchdog group says Twitter lags behind Facebook, Bebo and other social networks when it comes to protecting children from abuse.

The London-based Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre said it believes some pedophiles still use the site to discuss crimes against children and link to pornographic images, despite efforts by Twitter to act immediately when it receives complaints about such activity.

In a statement Del Harvey, Twitter’s Director of Trust and Safety, said “we receive a report and identify it as valid, we take action immediately.”

“Accounts being reported may be the subject of law enforcement investigations. In those instances, while the profiles are certainly disturbing, removing them immediately can actually harm the cases that law enforcement may be attempting to build,” Harvey said. “Additionally, a user submitting a report may not receive a response if it is a duplicate to one that has already been reported, even if action has been taken.”

CEOP said Facebook and Bebo have both worked with the agency to develop “panic buttons” on their sites which allows users to immediately report concerns with a single mouse click. Twitter, on the other hand, is still a “little bit behind some other sites that have been around a little bit longer,” CEOP Chief Executive Peter Davies said in a statement.

CEOP provided no specific examples of instances where children have been endangered, but the group cited anecdotal evidence from Mark Williams-Thomas, a former detective who now works as a child protection expert. Williams-Thomas said he believes pedophiles are still active on the site and may be using Twitter to contact victims.

Williams-Thomas also told the BBC that privacy protections on Twitter and other social networks may be helping pedophiles hide their crimes. In Twitter, for example, users can keep conversations private from everyone but their followers, which makes them harder to detect and report.

“Clearly you can communicate whatever you want within a protected profile,” Williams-Thomas said.

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