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As ‘censor chief’ Vijaya Gadde is fired, read how Twitter had refused to take down child porn even as victim’s parents begged for its removal

In 2021, a 17-year-old boy alias ‘John Doe’, filed a lawsuit against Twitter for not removing two child pornography videos featuring him, despite multiple requests to the social media giant. The victim informed us that the videos were shot when he was just 13 years old. He accused Twitter of allowing the dissemination of disturbing videos and profiteering from his traumatic experience.

On Friday (October 28), the Head of Legal Policy, Trust, and Safety at Twitter, Vijaya Gadde, was booted out of service by the company’s new owner Elon Musk.

Gadde, who spent 11 years at the social media giant, had earned the distinction of being the ‘censor chief‘ of Twitter. She was responsible for terminating the Twitter account of US President Donald Trump and killing the ‘Hunter Biden story’, which impacted voting in the 2020 US elections.

However, during her tenure, Twitter failed to remove videos of child sexual abuse despite repeated requests by the minor victim and his parents.

The Background of the controversy

In 2021, a 17-year-old boy, alias ‘John Doe’, filed a lawsuit against Twitter for not removing two child pornography videos featuring him, despite multiple requests to the social media giant.

The victim informed us that the videos were shot when he was just 13 years old. He accused Twitter of allowing the dissemination of disturbing videos and profiteering from his traumatic experience.

The teen had alleged that sex traffickers, posing as a 16-year-old female classmate, had lured him for a chat on Snapchat. After exchanging nude photos with the traffickers, he was subjected to blackmail.

The accused had coerced him into sending more sexually graphic images and videos by threatening to send the nude images to his pastor, coach and parents. The victim was made to include another child in sexual acts.

Eventually, he mustered the courage to block the traffickers. Later in 2019, the videos of his abuse surfaced on Twitter. They were reported several times to the moderation team, which refused to take them down.

Meanwhile, the victim was subjected to bullying and harassment by his classmates over his child abuse videos. After several requests, Twitter responded to the victim and claimed that the two videos were not in violation of the company’s policies.

By then, the videos were watched over 1.67 lakh users and retweeted over 2.2K times. It was only after a formal complaint to the Department of Homeland Security that Twitter acted against the user that posted the videos.

Screengrab of the news report by The Verge

In August 2022, The Verge reported how Twitter was planning to start a subscription model for adult content creators, along the lines of OnlyFans. At that time, a team of 84 Twitter employees pointed out how the social media giant lacked tools to identify potentially harmful sexual content.

“Twitter cannot accurately detect child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity at scale,” they concluded. Interestingly, the social media giant was quick to terminate the accounts of those individuals who questioned the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines and the mainstream narrative about the pandemic.

‘Human Trafficking Survivor Advocate’ Eliza had documented several cases where Twitter failed to protect minor victims of child abuse.

In May last year, a Russian court fined Twitter for failing to delete illegal content, including posts related to child pornography, drug abuse information, and calls for minors to commit suicide, which was highlighted by the telecom regulator Ruskomnadzor.

With Gadde’s ouster and Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, users are looking forward to drastic changes in moderation policy and prevention of dissemination of child pornography on social media platforms.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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