Instagram ‘connects pedophiles’ – WSJ

Peddlers of child porn have used Meta’s popular image-sharing platform to build networks and trade illegal content, researchers have found

Instagram ‘connects pedophiles’ – WSJ

Buyers and sellers of underage-sex content have developed a thriving network thanks to the discovery algorithms in Instagram, the photo-sharing platform owned by the Silicon Valley giant Meta, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

“Instagram connects pedophiles and guides them to content sellers via recommendation systems that excel at linking those who share niche interests,” the Journal reported, based on investigations it conducted jointly with Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“brazen” about their interests, but don’t post illegal materials openly, choosing to offer “menus” of content instead, according to the researchers. They also use certain emojis as code, in which a map stands for “minor-attracted person” – a euphemism for pedophile – and cheese pizza is shorthand for “child pornography,” said Brian Levine, director of the UMass Rescue Lab at Amherst. Many users describe themselves as “lovers of the little things in life,” he said. 

“incest toddlers,” and Adams viewed its profile briefly in order to report it as inappropriate. Over the next few days, Adams said, she received messages from horrified parents who visited her profile only to receive recommendations to view the pedophile one.

“Instagram’s problem comes down to content-discovery features, the ways topics are recommended and how much the platform relies on search and links between accounts,” David Thiel, chief technologist at the Stanford Internet Observatory who previously worked at Meta, told the Journal.

“child sexual abuse” and offers them two options: “Get resources” and “See results anyway.” 

“Child exploitation is a horrific crime,” a Meta spokesperson told the Journal when the company was contacted about the findings. Mark Zuckerberg’s company acknowledged it has had “problems within its enforcement operations” and said it had set up an internal task force to address the situation.