An investigation by the Wall Street Journal and some researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered that Instagram is involved in pedophilia and online trafficking of children not only through facilitating online transactions about also by promoting the criminal activity through its algorithm.
The investigation has found out that Instagram, a huge social media platform that’s also owned by Meta Platform, which is also partly owned by Mark Zuckerberg, “helps guide pedophiles to content sellers” by linking them through “niches and interests”. The platform’s algorithm caters hashtags such as #pedowhore and #preteensex, connecting the accounts that have the same interest or to those who use the social media tool for advertising their underage sex material business. As the investigation reported by the WSJ:
Such accounts often claim to be run by the children themselves and use overtly sexual handles incorporating words such as “little slut for you.”
Instagram accounts offering to sell illicit sex material generally don’t publish it openly, instead posting “menus” of content. Certain accounts invite buyers to commission specific acts. Some menus include prices for videos of children harming themselves and “imagery of the minor performing sexual acts with animals,” researchers at the Stanford Internet Observatory found. At the right price, children are available for in-person “meet ups.”
Unfortunately, sex-related content creators using minors and children are part of a larger network of online underage traffickers and pedophiles. Some of them produce and circulate memes promoting their culture, some assist other pedophile users on accessing child-related sexual content or even helping them avail services. If not millions, it’s possible that the accounts of this interest would reach by the hundreds of thousands, according to the experts who conducted the academic investigation. This has also been confirmed by meta.
According to Meta, the company is fighting this problem of pedophilia actively. Earlier this year alone, is has removed 490,000 accounts for violating the child safety policies. According to Brian Levine, the author of a 2022 report for the National Institute of Justice and the current director of the UMass Rescue La, “Instagram is an on ramp to places on the internet where there’s more explicit child sexual abuse”. One of the reasons for this great rise of underage sex exploitation in the platform is that Instagram is very popular with teenage users. As what have been found by the researchers, Instagram has the worst child sex exploitation activity through its network of sellers and buyers compared to other social media platforms.
To read the whole report about the investigation, go to this link: