March 29, 2017

Twitter Takes Largest Stand Against Cyber-based Sexual Harassment Yet

As first reported by HeatStreet, Twitter is now blocking several pornography-related search terms—particularly from results in the “Photos” and “Videos” section of the social media platform.

Now when users type in hashtags or keywords traditionally associated with pornography, they get this message:

Text: “Nothing came up for your search, which is a little weird. Maybe check what you searched for and try again.”

Why is this important?

Twitter has come under fire recently for the vast amount of cyber-based sexual harassment, revenge pornography, and even sexually exploited images of children on its platform. We know that pornography is inherently tied to cyber-based sexual harassment, whether in the form of revenge pornography, being spammed with pornography, or having one’s virtual identity co-opted by tags to pornography.

Yet, Twitter has remained riddled with pornography for years and years.

Traditionally, social media sites like Twitter have remained unswayed by these concerns. We live in a digital age where social responsibility online is often discarded in favor of increasing views, favorites, or retweets.

Twitter has a long history of doing just that.

So Twitter’s recent decision to take action and block blatant searches for pornographic images and videos is a significant break from their past laissez faire approach.

At long last, Twitter is beginning to take responsibility for creating a sexploitation-free online environment. It’s encouraging to see a social media platform taking steps to combat the flood of cyber-based sexual harassment and pornography online.

While some argue that Twitter is suddenly “censoring” content, Twitter has long retained a policy against pornographic pictures and videos and is just now taking effective steps to enforce it.

Twitter’s improvement is commendable, but the social media platform still has more work to do.

Twitter was listed on NCOSE’s 2017 Dirty Dozen List, which names 12 mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation, because it facilitates distribution of hardcore pornography, as well as allowing pornography- and prostitution-themed accounts to flourish on its site.

Twitter must continue to combat sexually exploitive content on its platform, specifically in its links to the video streaming app Periscope and accounts featuring pornography and/or promoting prostitution.

ACTION: NCOSE encourages the public to tweet @Twitter using the hashtag #ThanksTwitter to applaud the company for its improvements, and to ask them to continue working to remove sexploitation from its platform.

Learn more about the 2017 Dirty Dozen List at DirtyDozenList.com.

Haley McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, Washington Examiner, Townhall.com, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

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