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() — In a recent report by The Wall Street Journal, social media platforms, particularly Meta-owned Instagram, have faced criticism for their failure to effectively combat the spread of child pornography.
According to investigations by The Wall Street Journal and researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Instagram reportedly helps connect a vast network of accounts devoted to underage sexual content.
Pete Canavan, host of “Safety Talk podcast,” joined “On Balance With Leland Vittert” to discuss a Wall Street Journal report, saying, “It is very surprising and it makes you wonder why they don’t censor you know, other things too, like hate speech.”
The report highlights how Instagram’s search functionality enabled users to find explicit hashtags, including disturbing terms like “preteen sex.”
These searches would lead users to accounts promoting the sale of child sexual materials, often disguising themselves as accounts managed by children and employing overtly sexual usernames.
The presence of such content raises serious concerns about the safety and protection of children online.
While these platforms have swiftly taken action to address COVID-related misinformation and disinformation, the same level of urgency has not been applied to the pervasive issue of child exploitation.
Canavan suggested that financial considerations may be a significant factor.
“There’s the First Amendment side of it,” Canavan said. “And then there’s the other half, which is the money.”
Canavan pointed out that popular content generates traffic and profits, leading social media companies to overlook or neglect the censorship of harmful material if it aligns with their financial interests.
“If you’re gonna have posts online that drive traffic, right, videos are driving traffic, posts that are going viral. Well, they’re popular, that’s good for the social media companies,” he said. “It makes them more money therefore they’re going to continue to promote that and not censor it because doing so is gonna hurt the bottom line.”
Watch the full interview with Pete Canavan in the video player at the top of the page.