Google, Meta, Twitter, and Others Profiting Off Sexual Exploitation, Says Non-Profit
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) released its “2022 Dirty Dozen List” of companies accused of “facilitating, enabling, and even profiting from sexual abuse and exploitation.”
This year’s list includes a popular social media site, the main search engine online, and a prominent Christian sports camp.
“Corporations and popular brands shape our culture and influence the ways we think, act, and feel about ourselves and others. And while many of these entities bring positive benefits and allow us to communicate, learn, work, and relax, unfortunately, many are also fueling sexual exploitation through their business practices, policies, and products,” said Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
“Children and marginalized people in particular are being harmed at record numbers due to increased vulnerabilities created by the pandemic – yet corporations continue watching profits skyrocket without prioritizing user protection and well-being,” Nealon added. “We cannot allow this reality to go unchallenged, and our annual Dirty Dozen List advocates for crucial changes toward corporate social responsibility.”
Below is the list from NCOSE:
Discord is a social media app that was originally created for video game players but exploded during the pandemic.
According to NCOSE, Discord “consistently fails to address the extensive sexually graphic, violent, and exploitative content on its thousands of private and public channels.”
“Discord’s inadequate age verification and moderation procedures means millions of children and teen users are left with near-unmitigated exposure to child sexual abuse material, nonconsensual pornography trading, and the predatory grooming that are rampant on its platform,” stated the group.
The e-commerce company, Etsy, which focuses on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies, is accused of selling items that advance sexual exploitation.
According to NCOSE, those items include ones with pornographic imagery, clothing with misogynistic content or a graphic nature, sex dolls that resemble children, and other sexual-related products.
Lily Moric, international advocacy associate with NCOSE, said Etsy also provides “age-play products,” which involve sexual roleplaying where one adult pretends to be a child or baby.
“Etsy should not be profiting from normalizing and fetishizing child sexual abuse, misogyny, and sexual exploitation,” said Moric
The world’s most popular search engine is accused of directing people “to pornography sites when they search for themes of rape, racism, incest, sexual abuse of minors, and other illegally-themed or socially damaging-themed pornography.”
“Google has failed to implement survivor-centered practices to remove non-consensually recorded and shared sexual content from Google search results,” Jake Roberson, vice president and director of Communications at NCOSE, said.
“There is absolutely zero reason rape-themed searches should be yielding any pornographic sites, and it is irresponsible for Google to permit these websites to be indexed in Google search at all.”
One of the largest Christian sports camps, Kanakuk Kamps in Branson, Missouri is accused of “a deeply troubling array of instances” covering up child sexual abuse.
“Tragically, in a deeply troubling array of instances, the safety of children took a back seat to other considerations as decades of child sexual abuse at Kanakuk Kamps have been swept under the rug by the organization,” NCOSE said.
“This was and is a violation of trust, and ultimately a failure of leadership,” it added. “Responsibility, accountability, and transparency must be required of institutions like Kanakuk Kamps if we wish to stamp out child sexual abuse.”
A messaging app, Kik Messenger, is accused of hosting sexually explicit content — especially between adults and minors — on its group chats, which are open to the public.
“Kik has been flagged by the media, law enforcement as a hotbed for grooming, child sexual abuse, pornography, and child sexual abuse material,” Stephany Powell, director of Law Enforcement Training and Survivor Services at NCOSE, said.
“Despite the fact that they have policies banning it, Kik contains severe sexual content. But get this, Kik provides very little safety features and almost no moderation, relying on user reports to catch bad behavior.”
Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp is accused of hosting “primary places for grooming, sextortion, child sexual abuse materials, sex trafficking, and a host of other crimes and ills.”
NCOSE said that Meta “has the potential to lead the tech industry in creating and implementing online safety standards,” but is instead “prioritizing new projects and products, all while pursuing increased, sweeping encryption without sufficient provisions for child online safety which will aid predators in escaping detection and accountability.”
“Without a commitment to put safety before profit across all its platforms, the so-called ‘metaverse’—where social media and virtual reality meet — will likely unleash new manifestations of sexual abuse and exploitation,” it added.
Streaming entertainment service Netflix is accused of having “rampant sexual objectification and glamorization of abuse” across its content.
“Sociologists have identified a marked increase in graphic sex scenes and gratuitous nudity permeating Netflix shows. Further, Netflix continues a trend of normalizing the sexualization of children and whitewashing the violence and exploitation in prostitution,” NCOSE said.
“Netflix regularly ignores calls by influencers and advocates to remove particularly egregious films, demonstrating their lack of corporate social responsibility and their callous willingness to profit from this horrific content.”
The London-based subscription website, OnlyFans, is “a safe haven for exploitation,” according to NCOSE.
“Sex buyers and pimps maximize buying and selling people behind the security of a paywall,” NCOSE explained. “OnlyFans encourages grooming and pimping through its referral system, which functions as a kind of ‘multi-level marketing scheme.’”
“OnlyFans has become the latest iteration of the commercial sex industry – and a very prominent and influential iteration at that.”
A website made of communities for discussing various topics, Reddit, is accused of hosting “countless non-consensually shared sexually explicit images and videos, child sexual abuse material, and hardcore pornography.”
NCOSE adds, “Pimps advertise–and sex buyers purchase–people for sex while other predators share tactics on using and abusing victims. Not only does Reddit turn a blind eye to illegal and harmful content on its site, survivor requests to remove images of their abuse go unanswered.”
The group accuses Reddit of prioritizing profits over safety.
Former President Trump is permanently suspended, but NCOSE accuses Twitter of hosting “pedophiles and other predators” who “trade in criminal content such as child sexual abuse and nonconsensual pornography.”
The group said that Twitter functions as an advertisement for commercial sex.
“Twitter fails to adequately respond to its victim, claiming it cannot be held accountable for disseminating illegal material,” NCOSE added. “Twitter has even flatly refused to remove verified child sex abuse material from its site when asked by victims.”
The Virginia-company Verisign provides domain name registry services and has sites that have “child sexual abuse material,” according to the list.
NCOSE said Verisign fails to protect children like other registrar websites do.
“Verisign’s contracts with registrars also gives it the right to shut down secondary domains at the root if they are hosting illegal material such as child sexual abuse material,” the group explained.
Although Visa cut ties with Pornhub in 2020, it has since reignited its relationship with MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub and other pornography websites.
Instead of following Mastecard’s example by “requiring that sites hosting sexually explicit material implement common sense measures to prevent and remove illegal content,” Visa allows for it.
“Furthermore, Visa also allows transactions for brothels and prostitution websites,” noted NCOSE. “Visa should live up to its corporate social responsibility principles and stop buttressing the infrastructure of the exploitative commercial sex industry.”