STATEMENT – Twitter Sued by Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
Twitter Knowingly Distributed Plaintiff’s Abuse Videos and Refused to Remove Them
Washington, DC (January 20, 2021) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center (NCOSE), The Haba Law Firm, and The Matiasic Firm have jointly filed a federal lawsuit against Twitter on behalf of a minor who was trafficked on the social media platform that boasts over 330 million users.
The plaintiff, John Doe, a minor, was harmed by Twitter’s distribution of material depicting his sexual abuse, and by Twitter’s knowing refusal to remove the images of his sexual abuse (child pornography) when notified by the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s parents. The case, John Doe v. Twitter, was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
At age 16, Plaintiff John Doe was horrified to find out sexually graphic videos of himself—made at age 13 under duress by sex traffickers—had been posted to Twitter. Both John Doe and his mother, Jane Doe, contacted the authorities and Twitter. Using Twitter’s reporting system, which according to its policies is designed to catch and stop illegal material like child sexual abuse material (CSAM) from being distributed, the Doe family verified that John Doe was a minor and the videos needed to be taken down immediately.
“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,” said Peter Gentala, senior legal counsel for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center. “Despite its public expressions to the contrary, Twitter is swarming with uploaded child pornography and Twitter management does little or nothing to prevent it.”
Instead of the videos being removed, Twitter did nothing, even reporting back to John Doe that the video in question did not in fact violate any of their policies. This lack of care and proper attention resulted in the CSAM of John Doe accumulating over 167,000 views before direct involvement from a law enforcement officer caused Twitter to remove the child pornography material. John Doe is now suing Twitter for its involvement in and profiting from his sexual exploitation, which violates the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and various other protections afforded by law.
“All of these views could have been prevented by Twitter, but it inexplicably refused to remove Doe’s videos despite clear proof that he is a minor. No child or parent should have to endure this egregious violation of their rights by a technology company,” said Lisa Haba, partner at The Haba Law Firm.
“Twitter clearly needs to properly address the egregious issues of exploitation and abuse happening throughout its platform. We hope that John Doe receives some measure of justice and that this lawsuit will pave the way for other survivors to seek justice,” Gentala said.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center offers survivors of pornography-related abuse a way to seek justice. More information can be found at: https://sexualexploitationlawsuits.com/.
About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography.
About The Haba Law Firm, P.A.
The Haba Law Firm is an upscale boutique law firm in Greater Orlando area of Florida, that provides excellence in civil litigation on behalf of human trafficking and sexual abuse survivors. Haba Law prides itself on its aggressive and effective representation, honesty, and trauma-informed, victim centered advocacy. The unparalleled knowledge and experience with human trafficking and sexual abuse has resulted in partner Lisa Haba receiving numerous awards and recognitions for her work with survivors of human trafficking and sexual abuse.