If you’re on Twitter you might have seen a mass movement last night, a mass movement against one Twitter account and then, as people became more aware of what was going on, against several others. Today people are claiming a success, the account – all of the accounts – have been suspended.
But is it really a success or merely a pushing of one account elsewhere? The reporting system, the ability of Twitter to check photographs uploaded, in this case child pornography, seems to be distinctly lacking. And there is more to it than just that.
I reported the account too but, I’m sad to say, not in the way that Twitter requires. Like many others I saw what was being posted and reacted immediately, but I also saw that the account had been posting pornographic images, including actual penetration of minors, for two whole days.
When you check Twitter there is, on your options page, only a link to report users for spam. In order to find the correct way to report anything else, including child pornography, you need to go through several pages of the Help section to find the relevant link and then send an e-mail voicing your concerns. Most people will not have known this. Most people, that I saw, re-tweeted the information that this account was publishing child pornography and a few added @Twitter to gain their attention. Some of the photographs published were even on the twitter.com picture site, unchecked, free for anyone to access, copy or use. Others were on other well known picture holding sites.
Even more disturbing is the number of followers this account managed to gain over the more than two days it was active.
It is not just the person who was posting these vile images who has caused abuse, but also all those who followed the account and, as a result, were able to access images of child abuse on their Time Line. To my way of thinking, all these people should be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (Twitters’ preferred course of action) too. All of them should be pulled up before the might of the law and receive their justified punishment.
And the reporting system that Twitter uses?
The fact that you need to search through the Help section for information on how to react, how to report is, for me, wrong. Why can I report spam directly from my main page but not other forms of abuse? Why is there not a simpler method of reporting abusive images readily available which can be actioned immediately?
Twitter, and many other similar social media networks, need to re-think how they react and how to help other people react to such instances of abuse. Having an e-mail address hidden away in the Help section of a web site is not good enough, it must be readily available, immediately accessible. And perhaps Twitter, and others, ought to begin thinking about checking whether linked e-mail addresses should be verified, whether images uploaded or displayed through links, should go through a clearance check first. The software is available, it is just a case of whether someone in a position of authority is prepared to use it or not.
- Viktoria Michaelis.