Through a throwaway comment on Reddit I have recently been made aware of a disgusting part of the internet. The hashtag #mnsfw which stands for “minor not safe for work” continues to make ground on Twitter with users as young as 14 offering to sell explicit photos of themselves. Users who post with this hashtag use subtle tools to make their age clear but not explicit. An example being: “I’m -15 +29”. This user was 14 and posting explicit photos of themselves. In the United States, the legal age of pornography is 18 years old. This is the same in the United Kingdom. How then, does Twitter continue to turn a blind eye to these accounts?
Alongside #mnsfw there are others that relate to similar content. These include #irlloli and #irloli both of which allude to the Vladimir Nabokov book Lolita, which details an inappropriate sexual relationship between a teacher and a student. These two hashtags alone generated over 1000 results. The main one in use is #mnsfw, it is the most widespread on Twitter and encompasses the widest age range.
Not only does Twitter facilitate minors posting child pornography, but I have also come across accounts that detail the following acronyms in their bios: MAPs (Minor Attracted Person), AOA (Age of Attraction), AAM (Adult Attracted Minor) and one user whose account is titled pxdohorny, whose pinned tweet states how they do not reply to people over the age of 15. This account is new after being banned and it doesn’t take a genius to decipher that username. I must make clear I was aware of such acronyms prior to this, MAPs has grown in use recently as it is a rebranding of the word paedophile to make it more socially acceptable, however the widespread usage of the terms so blatantly on Twitter is sickening.
Twitter, who have already been embroiled in a lawsuit for facilitating child pornography earlier this year, continue to allow these horrific abuses. The lawsuit, John Doe v. Twitter, detailed how the social media platform allowed the videos of a 13-year-old boy being abused by his sex-traffickers to be spread around the site which has around 330 million users.
Senior Legal Counsel for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation Peter Gentala said the following regarding Twitter’s approach to this issue, “As John Doe’s situation makes clear, Twitter is not committed to removing child sex abuse material from its platform. Even worse, Twitter contributes to and profits from the sexual exploitation of countless individuals because of its harmful practices and platform design”. This was in a statement back on January 20th, 2021. The date when I’m writing this is 22nd December 2021, and I am deeply regretful to declare that nothing has changed.
Twitter’s terms of service says the following, “We have a zero-tolerance child sexual exploitation policy on Twitter”. They detail explicitly what violates this policy. Every account I have seen using the above hashtags violates this policy. What is even more concerning is that there is not a clear and definitive way to report child pornography on the site once you click report.
Twitter has shown their ability to uphold censorship in the past when they removed Donald Trump’s Twitter account whilst he was a sitting President. Not only that but Twitter has removed links to competing social media sites and posts critical of certain world governments. Why then is there not an intense crackdown on these posts. They are facilitating a culture of pay-per-view pedophilia.
This also comes at a time when we have one of the most high-profile child sex-trafficking cases in history taking place. Ghislaine Maxwell is currently on trial for her involvement with Jeffrey Epstein. At a time like this it is despicable that Twitter does not have a heightened sensitivity to such a widespread issue on their platform.
I am further saddened to highlight how in order to make this article as truthful and honest a representation of this issue as I can, I have had the distinct displeasure of trawling through accounts related to this content and reporting every account I come across. Honesty is key here. This is ugly and horrible to witness, and I hope by shedding a small amount of light on this issue we can combat Twitter’s blatant disregard for the safety of the children using their platform.