The Wall Street Journal has published a shocking report that blows the lid off of a pedophile ring utilizing Instagram. What’s more, the platform’s algorithms are helping promote the group.
A “vast network” of pedophiles interested in “underage sex content” are being connected through the Meta-owned social media platform’s algorithms, Fox News reported.
The algorithms promote illicit content to accounts “openly devoted to the commission and purchase” of the material, found a joint investigation between The Wall Street Journal and researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“Instagram connects pedophiles and guides them to content sellers via recommendation systems that excel at linking those who share niche interests,” the report found. “Though out of sight for most on the platform, the sexualized accounts on Instagram are brazen about their interest.”
Instagram enabled people to search explicit hashtags such as #pedowhore and #preteensex and connected them to accounts that advertised child-sex material for sale. Once connected, buyers could “commission specific acts” or arrange “meet ups,” the WSJ report said. The report also said the Instagram accounts offering to sell illicit sex material tend not publish it openly. They instead post “menus” of content.
According to the researchers, some menus include prices for videos of children harming themselves and “imagery of the minor performing sexual acts with animals.” At the right price, children are available for in-person “meet-ups.”
It is illegal under federal law to promote underage-sex content.
Meta responded to the WSJ report by stating, “acknowledged problems within its enforcement operations and said it has set up an internal task force to address the issues raised.” “Child exploitation is a horrific crime,” the company told the Journal, adding, “We’re continuously investigating ways to actively defend against this behavior.”
Meta said it has, in the past two years, taken down 27 pedophile networks and is planning more removals, according to the report.
The Instagram logo is seen on a cell phone, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, file)/Handcuffed, Eric Franklin Rosser, 49, a former concert pianist of Syracuse, N.Y., is escorted by Thai police officers at Crime Suppression Office in Bangkok Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2001. Rosser, a self-confessed American pedophile who is on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, was rearrested in the Thai capital by FBI officers and the Thai police acting on a tip-off on charged with child sex crimes in the United States and Thailand. Rosser was arrested in Bangkok on Feb. 9, 2000, on charges of lewd behavior and possession of pornographic materials, he jumped bail two months later and was believed to have fled Thailand. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)/Facebook’s Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Oct. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)