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Twitter ran ads on profiles exchanging child pornography

Twitter said on Wednesday it was investigating how ads from big brands appeared on profiles soliciting or selling child pornography.

“We are working closely with our customers and partners to investigate the situation and take appropriate action to prevent this from happening again in the future,” Twitter spokeswoman Celeste Carswell said in a statement.

The company said it is working to better detect and suspend accounts that post child sexual exploitation material and to ensure the company has “the right models, processes and products in place to help keep everyone who uses Twitter safe, whether it’s people or brands.” The company said it suspended many profiles that shared this content for breaking its rules, but did not specify how many.

The revelation comes at a difficult time for Twitter. The influential social media company is currently in a legal battle with billionaire Elon Musk, which is trying to renege on a deal to buy the company for $44 billion. Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, Twitter’s former security chief, also accused in a whistleblower complaint that he discovered security problems in the company. Twitter, like other social networks, has also struggled to crack down on harmful sexual content. In late August, The Verge reported that Twitter dropped plans to create competitor OnlyFans because a team concluded the company could not accurately detect child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity content.

Reuters, who interviewed some of the upset advertisers, reported that several brands such as Dyson, Mazda and chemical company Ecolab had suspended their marketing campaigns or removed some of their ads from Twitter after discovering that their ads accompanied these offensive tweets. . The news outlet, citing research from cybersecurity group Ghost Data, said around 30 brands, including The Walt Disney Company, Cole Haan and Coca-Cola, had displayed ads on profiles soliciting sexual abuse content from people. children. Business Insider reported that Twitter informed advertisers of what happened and the work they were doing to fix the issue.

David Maddocks, brand president at Cole Haan, told Reuters the company was “horrified” after discovering the brand’s ads accompanied tweets soliciting child sexual abuse content. “Twitter is either going to fix this or we will by any means possible, including not buying Twitter ads,” he told Reuters. An advert for the footwear and accessories brand appeared alongside a tweet in which a user said they were “swapping teen/kids content”, Reuters reported.

Twitter makes most of its money from advertising sales, and tech companies are trying to cut costs as they prepare for an economic downturn by freezing hiring, laying off workers or canceling some projects. In the second quarter, which runs from April to June, Twitter’s ad revenue totaled $1.08 billion.