Tech Giants, Federal Law Identified by Advocacy Group as Enabling Sexual Exploitation

Tech Giants, Federal Law Identified by Advocacy Group as Enabling Sexual Exploitation
Attendees visit the Meta booth at the Game Developers Conference 2023 in San Francisco on March 22, 2023. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)
Savannah Hulsey Pointer

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) released its yearly list of “mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation” on April 10. The list includes a range of companies, primarily large corporations in the technology sector, and one piece of federal law.

NCOSE’s “Dirty Dozen List” list contains companies that, according to the organization, do not take sufficient measures to protect society from the negative effects of sexual exploitation.

Topping the list are “three of the world’s wealthiest companies,” as NCOSE pointed out in its statement.

“Apple, Meta, and Microsoft are among the most powerful and profitable companies globally,” NCOSE Vice President and Director of Corporate Advocacy Lina Nealon said.

“Unfortunately, their products and policies are also undoubtedly fueling the child sexual abuse crisis and enabling the proliferation of image-based sexual abuse. ... Instead of dedicating the necessary resources to prevent exploitation of both children and adults, they are prioritizing profit and engaging in an AI arms race.”

‘Dangerous Precedents’

The organization’s vice president went on to assert that the three companies have “all set dangerous precedents that further sexual abuse and exploitation.”

She offered more specifics on the offenses, saying Apple has declined to implement programs to detect child sexual abuse materials on iCloud. As for the social media giant, the organization asserts that Meta’s “family of apps,” which includes Instagram, has been “well-established as primary places for a host of crimes and ills.”

“But rather than sufficiently addressing these abuses, Meta made the move to enact end-to-end encryption—effectively blinding itself to the most egregious harms on its platforms. And Microsoft’s GitHub—though not as well-known—is the source for the vast majority of deepfake pornography that is so rapidly proliferating,” the organization stated.

Cash App, Cloudflare, Discord, LinkedIn, Reddit, Roblox, Spotify, and Telegram are some of the other companies that have been included on the 2024 Dirty Dozen List. According to NCOSE, these companies have been included on the list because they play some part in facilitating sexual abuse and exploitation.

NCOSE has also placed Snapchat on its 2024 Dirty Dozen Watchlist, which is intended for companies that were previously on the list but have implemented “significant changes.”

Explaining the criteria for selecting the companies for the list, Ms. Nealon said the targets were chosen based on various factors. These included enabling payment for sexual exploitation, as CashApp has been accused of, and providing infrastructure for criminal activities such as sex trafficking, as Cloudflare is alleged to have done.

“Others like Discord, Reddit, and Telegram are preferred platforms for predators to obtain, post, and trade child sexual abuse content and image-based sexual abuse of adults, and are hotspots for creating and disseminating AI-generated deepfake pornography,” Ms. Nealon said. “Roblox, with a user base that consists primarily of children, refuses to implement basic safety measures, thereby exposing kids to predators, rape-themed ‘games,’ and age-inappropriate content like sex parties.

“Several of the platforms, including Spotify, expose children to hardcore pornography and predators. Even LinkedIn, the professional networking site, is guilty of failing to stop rampant sexual harassment against women and is legitimizing Pornhub and other exploitative enterprises.”

‘Wild Card’ Entry

In addition to the companies in the NCOSE crosshairs, the 2024 list also includes a “wild card” entry in the form of the Communications Decency Act Section 230, which provides general immunity for computer services with regard to third-party content generated by users.

“Though not a corporation, we placed the Communications Decency Act Section 230 on the list as ‘The Greatest Enabler of Online Sexual Exploitation.’” Ms. Nealon said.

“Misinterpretations of this 1996 law have granted immunity to tech companies for the sexual abuse and exploitation occurring on their platforms. Congress needs to immediately clarify the intent of this law so tech companies could finally be held liable for the rampant abuses they enable.”

Telegram spokesperson Remi Vaughn told The Epoch Times: “Telegram has actively moderated its platform since it was created. Moderators proactively monitor public parts of the app and accept user reports in order to remove millions of pieces of harmful content that breach our terms of service each day.

“As illegal pornography, CSAM and revenge porn are expressly forbidden by our terms of service. ... At time of writing, more than 20,000 groups and channels have been deleted in April.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the other 10 companies listed in this year’s Dirty Dozen list but did not receive a response by press time.

This year’s list had a significant overlap with the 2023 list. However, last year they also included Twitter, Snapchat, Kik, eBay, and OnlyFans.

“Since its inception in 2013, the Dirty Dozen List has galvanized thousands of individuals like you to call on corporations, government agencies, and organizations to change problematic policies and practices,” the group’s website states about the project.

Because of its Dirty Dozen project in the past, NCOSE claims to have seen “major victories” over Google, Netflix, TikTok, Hilton Worldwide, Verizon, Walmart, the Department of Defense, and others.

In explaining their work, NCOSE asserted that they have “built the infrastructure that is equipped to stand toe-to-toe against the world’s pornographers, pimps/sex traffickers, sex buyers, and exploitation profiteers.”