Protecting children online is getting tougher, and growing allegations point to big tech companies as helping to fuel the problem.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) recently unveiled its annual list of companies it says facilitate, enable, and even profit from this abuse.
The list dubbed The Dirty Dozen exposes businesses that fail to protect children from sexually abusive content. Its goal is to motivate consumers to call on corporations, government agencies and other organizations to change their policies and practices.
“Oftentimes these are platforms that we use every day and might not realize they have policies that enable sexual harm,” NCOSE Vice President Haley McNamara told CBN News.
Companies on the 2023 list include the Apple app store, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, eBay as well as the digital music service Spotify.
McNamara wants parents to know how easy it can be for their children to be targets in their own home.
“Some of these are on for issues like easy access of adults to children which results in grooming and sexual abuse,” explained McNamara. “One that might be particularly applicable to parents and surprising would be the video game and platform Roblox which is used by millions and millions of children around the world.”
“And unfortunately, it’s very easy for predators to gain access to children on that platform. Other platforms are social media focused, such as Reddit and Twitter, where unfortunately there’s a large amount of child sexual abuse material or adult non-consensual sharing of material.”
McNamara admits that while awareness is important, the Dirty Dozen list also serves as a tool with a track record of getting companies to change their ways.
“We have every year victories from the Dirty Dozen list,” she said. “We got Amazon to stop selling childlike sex dolls which they were selling in the past. We’ve had progress from Walmart, the Department of Defense, Verizon, United Airlines and so many other companies that have improved their policies thanks to people taking action through the Dirty Dozen List.”
Moving forward, McNamara hopes for even more progress especially when it comes to protecting those most vulnerable.
“I really hope that we have more responsibility put on technology platforms themselves to make their products safe or to turn product safety on by default, at least for children,” said McNamara.