Group Calls Out Amazon, Twitter, Youtube, and More for Promoting Sexual Trafficking and Exploitation

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Posted: Feb 12, 2018 4:20 PM
Group Calls Out Amazon, Twitter, Youtube, and More for Promoting Sexual Trafficking and Exploitation

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation released its 2018 “Dirty Dozen List” Monday that names the year’s top facilitators of sexual exploitation in society and culture. The annual list features mainstream companies that allow the promotion of sexual violence, prostitution, and even media that exploits children.

“Our Dirty Dozen List gets results,” Haley Halverson, Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation said in a statement. “It has instigated changes at institutions like Google, the Department of Defense, and Hilton Worldwide, which is why we continue this impactful initiative year after year.” 

“We are talking about mainstream corporations and services like Apple’s iBooks, Google’s YouTube, Roku and Twitter,” she emphasized, “which the American people use and interact with every day on a mass scale— and which simultaneously promote or profit from messages of incest, the dehumanization of women, sexual violence and even racism and child exploitation.”

"Our nation is experiencing a reawakening to how pervasive sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual harassment are,” Halverson added in reference to the MeToo movement. “Simultaneously, however, mainstream services like Apple’s iBooks are providing access to erotic literature that supports rape myths, normalizes adult-with-teen-themed and incest-themed exploitation, and reinforces degrading, racially charged sexual stereotypes.”

Amazon made the list for facilitating “the sale of materials that sexualize children and normalize the dehumanization and sexual commodification of women,” including, “eroticized child nudity photography books, sex dolls (many with childlike features,) and books with ‘how to’ instructions for sex trafficking.”

Twitter was cited as a “major platform to disseminate hardcore pornography and facilitate prostitution.” They add that the platform has “removed the ability to search for these terms directly in video or picture tabs,” but “there are still countless pornographic accounts which often serve as advertisements for pornography websites or online prostitution.”

They also named YouTube for “failing to proactively monitor or restrict sexually graphic content” and forcing “users to go through a rigorous process, which includes watching the material, if they want to report the content for removal.”

See the full list below:

Amazon: Amazon. com, the world’s largest online retailer, facilitates the sale of materials that sexualize children and normalize the dehumanization and sexual commodification of women. Such products include eroticized child nudity photography books, sex dolls (many with childlike features,) and books with “how to” instructions for sex trafficking. Amazon Prime also produces original content that normalizes gratuitous sexual violence against women and softcore pornography as mainstream entertainment.

Backpage.com: Backpage. com brings the seedy street corners of America’s red-light districts to home computers. As a classified advertising website known as “the hub” for prostitution advertising, Backpage.com serves as a virtual auction block where sex buyers can shop for human beings for sex from the privacy of their home, office, hotel room, or cell phone. Many of those bought and sold via the website are sexually trafficked women and children. The website facilitates this activity by allegedly editing ads to conceal the illegality of underlying criminal activity and remains immune from prosecution due to the Communications Decency Act Section 230.

Comcast: Comcast distributes and profits from sexual exploitation. One way it does this is by providing access to hardcore pornography via its Xfinity television packages. In 2017, Comcast informed NCOSE that it would take measures to hide and deceptively sanitize film descriptions and titles – but Comcast is still defending and profiting off of teen, incest, and racist-themed pornography.

EBSCO: EBSCO Information Services offers online library resources to public and private schools (K-12), public libraries, and more. In its advertising for schools, it promises “fast access to curriculum-appropriate content.” However, its databases provide easy access to hardcore pornography sites and extremely graphic sexual content. In 2017, EBSCO removed some content from their K-12 databases, however there remains an incredible amount of easily accessible sexually explicit material bypassing school filters mixed in with educational material.

HBO: Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) is a premium cable and satellite television network owned by Time Warner. Since the early 2000s HBO has produced a string of original programs that incorporate graphic sex scenes. Examples include G String Divas, CatHouse: The Series, and Hung. Graphic depictions of sex, rape, and brutal sexual violence are also commonplace in The Deuce, Game of Thrones and Westworld. HBO has reached a new low as it turns torture porn into popular entertainment.

iBooks: Apple’s iBooks app is automatically pre-downloaded on most iPhones as an easy way to access audio and written books while mobile. However, this app is filled with erotic literature that supports rape myths, normalizes adult-with-teen-themed and incest-themed exploitation, and reinforces degrading racially charged sexual stereotypes. Even innocent searches auto-populate graphic suggestions. Many stories feature “barely legal,” student-teacher, and “babysitter” sex, “forced sex” (aka rape,) or submission of minority races like Black, Asian, and Indian to white males.

Poster Boys of #MeToo: This year, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation broke with its tradition of placing only mainstream companies or organizations on the Dirty Dozen List, to include the four "Poster Boys" of the #MeToo culture of sexual assault and harassment: Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, and James Franco. These four men have used their power to both harass and abuse others, in addition to shaping America's cultural acceptance of sexual exploitation through their professions.

Roku: Roku, a leading media streaming company, provides its users with the ability to stream television programs, movies, music, and more, on their personal devices. Roku also facilitates access to hardcore pornography channels through hundreds of private and hidden channels. This stands in sharp contrast to the policies of other streaming device industry leaders such as Apple TV or Amazon’s Fire TV.

Snap Inc.: Arguably the most popular smartphone app used by Millennials and teens, Snapchat is frequently used for sexting and sharing child sexual abuse images (i.e. child pornography). Snapchat’s “Stories” is a feature which includes public content from media outlets like Cosmopolitan, frequently containing sexually graphic material that cannot be easily blocked by users. Additionally, its “SnapCash” feature enables users to easily monetize and profit from the exchange of sexual content.

Steam: Steam is the Walmart of online videogame distribution, with over 35 million users who are minors. Steam offers categories of “nudity” and “sexual content” video games, which include over 780 video games with explicit content, featuring only mild warnings. These games, for example House Party, Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya, Super Star, Porno Studio Tycoon and more, promote the dangerous misconception that sexually exploiting others is harmless and fun.

Twitter: Twitter is a major source of breaking news and boasts more than 300 million monthly, active users. It also serves as a major platform to disseminate hardcore pornography and facilitate prostitution. While the platform removed the ability to search for these terms directly in video or picture tabs, there are still countless pornographic accounts which often serve as advertisements for pornography websites or online prostitution.

YouTube: In late 2017, Google’s YouTube came under scrutiny for hosting disturbing videos that targeted children, often with children’s characters put in sexually charged or violent situations, and searches in the YouTube search bar would autocomplete with suggestions for child sex-themed videos. YouTube states that it removed many of these channels and the autocomplete suggestions, but YouTube is failing to proactively monitor or restrict sexually graphic content and it forces users to go through a rigorous process, which includes watching the material, if they want to report the content for removal.