A number of giant companies have suspended or canceled their advertising campaigns on Twitter in recent days, after discovering that the social network is displaying their advertisements alongside tweets that promote pedophile content.
The research company Ghost Data analyzed for 20 days tweets and accounts that promoted the sexual exploitation of children, with tweets containing words such as “rape” and “teens”, and messages such as “trafficker in teenagers/children” and ” Only young girls, no boys.” In this short period, the company found no less than 500 accounts that spread such tweets. But the bigger surprise was that in many of those accounts advertising content from more than 30 giant brands appeared among the tweets, such as the entertainment corporations Disney and NBCUniversal, the American cable company DirecTV, the PBS Kids channel (a kind of equivalent to “Educational Here”), the beverage giant Coca Coke, the car manufacturer Mazda, the air conditioner giant Dyson and the financial newspaper Forbes.
The company shared its findings exclusively with the Reuters news agency, which contacted Twitter for a response and provided it with a sample of pedophile content. In response, Twitter removed many accounts, but not all, and Reuters needed to transfer the full research to the social network to help it locate all the accounts and remove them.
Twitter spokeswoman Celeste Carzwell told the news agency that the company has “zero tolerance for the sexual exploitation of children” and that it invests many resources in keeping children safe and works in cooperation with clients and advertising partners to investigate and take steps to prevent such cases.
However, when Reuters contacted the advertisers who appeared alongside the content in question, they were outraged, and many of them chose to stop all advertising activity on Twitter. A Forbes spokesperson said that “Twitter needs to fix this problem as quickly as possible – until they do, we are stopping all future paid activity on Twitter”; Mazda’s spokesperson said that “there is no place for this type of content on the network”, and added that the company now limits its advertising on the social network so that it does not appear on profile pages at all; A Disney spokesperson said that “we will increase our efforts to ensure that digital platforms where we advertise, and the media buyers we use, will strengthen their efforts to prevent such mistakes from repeating themselves”; And a Coca-Cola spokesperson was outraged at the brand’s association with such content.
In an email that Twitter sent to advertisers following the revelations and reactions, it admitted: “We discovered that advertisements were displayed within profiles that were involved in the sale or solicitation of child sexual exploitation materials in public,” and promised to recruit more personnel to identify and prevent such cases.
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