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Twitter clamps down on Irish-linked accounts sharing pictures of underage children

Despite Twitter shutting down a significant number of these accounts, new versions keep appearing.

Image: DPA/PA Images

TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED a number of accounts, some of which had Irish followers, which featured images of young children accompanied by sexualised captions, TheJournal.ie understands. 

A number of accounts have appeared on the social media site in recent weeks which have shown children in various states of undress. These have included pictures of children at beaches but also in swimming pools. Other selfie-type photographs of young girls have also been posted along with sexually charged captions. 

Some of the profiles describe themselves as lobby groups for the legalisation of sexual relations between children and adults. Others are sites which appear to have been set up to support those who advocate paedophilic relationships.. 

Other accounts, which have been promoting sexual relations between adults and children have also been suspended in recent days. 

However, despite Twitter shutting down a significant number of these accounts, new versions keep appearing. While they are not the same account or do not have similar Twitter usernames, the new profiles continue to share suggestive pictures accompanied by sexualised captions  Twitter itself said it finds 96% of sites which promote underage sexual activity but the creation of new accounts means that some fall through the cracks and end up being reported by users.

Twitter has been made aware of the existence of these accounts and has a very strict policy in relation to child exploitation.

It emerged this week that almost a million Twitter accounts were suspended for posting child sexual exploitation material last year, according to the firm itself. 

A spokeswoman for Twitter Ireland said that it has a zero tolerance policy to content such as this. 

She said: “Twitter has a zero tolerance policy towards non-consensual nudity in all its forms. We will take firm enforcement action when we identify such content — it has no place on our service and is fundamentally against our values as a company.

“We explicitly ban the posting of images or videos which are taken or shared without the consent of the people involved. As per this policy, we immediately and permanently suspend accounts which are dedicated to posting bounties or rewards for such content. We’ll continue to take action where we identify violative content as part of our commitment to protecting the safety of the people who use our service.”

Gardai continue to liaise with Twitter on a regular basis about potential underage materials which are being shared within the State. These are being shared publicly by the accounts which are tweeting them. 

Gardaí are made aware of accounts of Irish users who are actively involved with the underage accounts. On the occasions where it is gardaí who bring the accounts to the attention of Twitter, the social media platform is able to share data with the officers in a bid to track down the perpetrators of the alleged crimes.

The issue of sharing underage material via social media is a worldwide problem with the vast majority of social media platforms being abused in one way or another to facilitate illegal materials. 

For example, new figures released by the NSPCC in the UK found that a total of 5,161 crimes of sexual communication with a child recorded in 18 months. That is almost a 50% increase in offence in offences recorded in latest six months compared to same period in previous year. There was also a 200% rise in recorded instances in the use of Instagram to target and abuse children over the same time period.

If you think you’ve found a Twitter account distributing or promoting child sexual exploitation, you can report it via its child sexual exploitation form

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