By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
NEW YORK (Worthy News) – Several US-based firms are suspending marketing campaigns or removing ads from social media giant Twitter after it was discovered that they appeared near tweets soliciting child pornography.
Brands ranging from Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, and Coca-Cola to a children’s hospital were among over 30 advertisers on Twitter profile pages peddling links to the exploitative material, Reuters news agency said Thursday.
Dyson, Mazda, Forbes, and PBS Kids already suspended their planned campaigns or removed ads from the child-abiding parts of Twitter, investigators said.
In statements, companies condemned Twitter for not doing enough to prevent the spread of child pornography and failing to protect advertisers from appearing next to such material.
For instance, a promoted tweet for shoe and accessories brand Cole Haan appeared next to one where a user said they were “trading teen/child” content.
“We’re horrified,” David Maddocks, brand president at Cole Haan, told Reuters after being notified that the company’s ads appeared alongside such tweets. “Either Twitter is going to fix this, or we’ll fix it by any means we can, which includes not buying Twitter ads.”
Like other social media platforms, Twitter claims to ban depictions of child sexual exploitation, which are illegal in most countries.
But it permits most adult content and is home to a thriving exchange of pornographic imagery, which comprises about 13 percent of all content on Twitter, reported Reuters, citing an internal company document.
Research group Ghost Data said it identified over 500 accounts that openly shared or requested child sexual abuse material in 20 days this month.
Twitter failed to remove more than 70 percent of the accounts during the study period, according to the group’s findings.
Twitter’s transparency reports on its website claim it suspended more than 1 million accounts last year for child sexual exploitation.
It made about 87,000 reports to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a government-funded non-profit that facilitates information sharing with law enforcement, according to that organization’s annual report.
Still, the reaction from advertisers poses a risk to Twitter’s business, which earns more than 90 percent of its revenue by selling digital advertising placements. Brands have been seeking to market products to the service’s 237 million daily active users.
Twitter is also battling in court Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk. He seeks to back out of a $44 billion deal to buy the social media firm over complaints about the prevalence of spam accounts and its impact on the business.
It came as a setback for several conservative and Christian commentators who are among those being banned by Twitter for allegedly violating its rules with sensitive comments.
They had hoped Musk would end what they view as limitations on free speech.