Meta has set up a taskforce to counter child exploitation following a Wall Street Journal report.
An investigation by the newspaper and academic researchers found Instagram promoted child-sex material.
It highlighted the failings of Big Tech firms in regulating the spread of illicit content online.
Meta has set up a taskforce to counter child exploitation after a news report said Instagram helped promote networks of accounts trading child-sex content.
The photo and video sharing app owned by Mark Zuckerberg's Meta allowed pedophiles to operate accounts that were openly sharing sexual content of minors, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
An investigation by the newspaper and researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that the algorithms underlying Instagram's content recommendation system helped to spread the material while guiding users to them.
Users were able to use Instagram to search for explicit terms through hashtags that grouped content with the same label, The Journal reported. Some hashtags found included "#pedowhore" and "#preteensex," per the report.
Meta acknowledged that it had problems in cracking down on such content in response to the findings, claiming that 27 pedophile networks had been removed in the past two years. The company confirmed that it had set up an internal task force to tackle the issues.
The findings highlight the serious failings Big Tech firms have had in regulating the spread of illicit content online, with Instagram's challenges removing child-sex material being just the latest case of that.
An investigation by The New York Times in 2019 found that some of the biggest tech platforms were struggling to deal with the volume of sexual material of minors being posted online, with 45 million photos and videos flagged in just one year.
Twitter owner Elon Musk has also identified sexual content of children online as a serious problem. In November, he said it was "Priority #1."
Meta told Insider in a statement: "Child exploitation is a horrific crime. We work aggressively to fight it on and off our platforms, and to support law enforcement in its efforts to arrest and prosecute the criminals behind it. Predators constantly change their tactics in their pursuit to harm children, and that's why we have strict policies and technology to prevent them from finding or interacting with teens on our apps, and hire specialist teams who focus on understanding their evolving behaviors so we can eliminate abusive networks.
"We're continuously exploring ways to actively defend against this behavior, and we set up an internal task force to investigate these claims and immediately address them. We're committed to continuing our work to protect teens, obstruct criminals, and support law enforcement in bringing them to justice."
Read the original article on Business Insider