Not feeling acutely queasy at the relentless perversion of our great big world yet today? Here ya go: Instagram accounts devoted to showcasing photos of "sexy teens" are becoming commenting hotbeds for swapping kiddie porn.
Mic recently posted a story about the "disturbing ways" teens are using Instagram. A lot of the report was old news; yes, obviously, teens do the photo-sexts. There are teens on Instagram obsessed with fame.
But one section jumped out at me: writer Adam Jaffe talks about "sexy teen" aggregator accounts, where photos of young people (including, sometimes, 13-year-olds) are featured as little erotic treasures. While most of the pictures aren't explicit—the account runners surely know there's no easier way to get kicked off—the commenting sections have become a stomping ground for pedophiles:
Concentrating sexual tastes in one place creates a community of users with the same desires, giving those users a place to connect. In some comment sections of aggregator accounts, I saw requests to exchange more explicit child pornography of that type (often described as simply "trade youngs").
Most aggregator accounts don't showcase explicit photos, but based on their usernames, captions and comment threads, some appear to be set up solely to facilitate trades of child pornography off of Instagram. This appears to be done by swapping Dropbox links or other mediums (this kind of aggregator account often has "trade" or "dropbox" in the profile name).
Look, wherever you go on the internet, no matter what weird digital pocket you discover, people are gonna try to find the sexy stuff. I bet if you look hard enough through forums for elderly neuro-Marxist legume foragers you'll find someone asking for dick pics. That's okay! It's okay to be horny on the Internet!
Except when you're horny about kids. And that's what's happening here.
Even if the content itself is pervy-but-legal, the commenting community's predilection for using the platform as a portal for trading illegal porn is a pretty big problem. We can't control what turns people on. But Instagram can prioritize stamping out accounts that exist solely to erotically objectify children.
Another news story that popped out at me recently: Three kids were arrested this month for running a child porn account on Instagram. Now, that's a slightly different situation, since it was juvenile-on-juvenile crime. But it's wack that the police pinpointed the account before Instagram.
Platforms like Instagram pledge a responsibility for moderating their content, for making sure the illegal stuff and unsavory stuff gets booted. And sometimes that moderation can tip into the censorious: Instagram's current war with a strain of feminist activists rallying to allow woman-nipples on the service is an example of how these platforms have to negotiate what is appropriate. It's bizarre that Instagram is wasting any time banning adult people from legally showing their nipples when there are communities overtly sexualizing children and brazenly discussing the exchange of illegal child porn at the same time.
I'm currently looking for more examples of these photo-swapping commenting rings beyond what Mic pointed out; if you've seen any, please let me know in the comments or through email.
Perhaps Instagram is allowing these creepy "sexy teen" aggregators to persist because it doesn't want to circumscribe posters who aren't doing anything overtly illegal, but that's a mistake. These accounts are predatory. [Mic]