Twitter places ads of major brands next to child abuse content
Two independent researches reveal that advertisements belonging to more than 30 Major brands have been placed next to Twitter accounts selling and promoting child pornography.
In the latest scandal to hit Twitter, a cybersecurity group that goes by the name Ghost Data, released research it conducted, "over a 20-day period this month (September)," revealing that ads of major brands have been promoted by the social media platform alongside more than 500 accounts that, "openly shared or requested child sexual abuse material."
Twitter on Wednesday started reaching out to its clients to assure them that a thorough investigation will be conducted on the matter, as the platform stated in an email to Gizmodo, “We are working closely with our clients and partners to investigate the situation and take the appropriate steps to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Reuters conducted a separate and independent research on the matter, which revealed that at least 30 brands had ads appear next to Twitter accounts promoting child abuse material, including Coca-Cola Co, Cole Haan and Walt Disney Co, and reported that despite the scandal, most of the accounts dealing with child pornography have not been removed yet.
While some companies such as Cole Haan warned Twitter to fix the issue, threatening to take matters into their own hands, with Brand President David Maddocks stating "we'll fix it by any means we can, which includes not buying Twitter ads," other major corporations such as Mazda, Ecolab ad Dyson terminated their ads from most of Twitter already.
A Twitter spokesperson commented on the incident stating that the company will increase resources invested in child safety on the platform such as opening new job positions to implement solutions and write policies, stressing that Twitter, "has zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation."
Dinsey on the other hand stated that they are “doubling-down on our efforts to ensure that the digital platforms on which we advertise, and the media buyers we use, strengthen their efforts to prevent such errors from recurring."
Twitter has been facing a series of blows lately, as Twitter whistleblower, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, took his case to Congress on the 15th of September, and warned of security flaws, privacy threats, and lax controls on the social platform - causing alarm for the Senate Judiciary Committee at a time of heightened concern over the safety of powerful tech platforms.
Zatko, a cybersecurity expert, served as Twitter’s head of security until he was fired early this year before bringing the allegations to Congress and federal regulators and asserting that the platform misled regulators about cyber defenses and efforts to control millions of fake accounts. This comes after Twitter Inc. agreed, in June, to pay a $7 million settlement to Zatko.
The cybersecurity expert's 84-page complaint on the matter discloses that he found “extreme, egregious deficiencies” on the platform, including issues with “user privacy, digital and physical security, and platform integrity/content moderation.” It points accusations toward CEO Parag Agrawal and other senior executives of “false and misleading statements to users and the FTC." Twitter denied the claims, justifying that Zatko was fired in January for “ineffective leadership and poor performance," which Zatko's attorneys called bluff.
He also filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including that Twitter breached the terms of a 2011 FTC settlement by falsely stating that it had put stronger measures to protect user security and privacy.