Tuesday, October 1, 2019

On Online Predators

From Keller & Dance's article, 'The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?"

Some of the less brutal bits:
"An investigation by The New York Times found an insatiable criminal underworld that had exploited the flawed and insufficient efforts to contain it. As with hate speech and terrorist propaganda, many tech companies failed to adequately police sexual abuse imagery on their platforms, or failed to cooperate sufficiently with the authorities when they found it. . . . National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, described a system at “a breaking point,” with reports of abusive images “exceeding the capabilities of independent clearinghouses and law enforcement to take action.” It suggested that future advancements in machine learning might be the only way to catch up with the criminals. . . . 
Adults, now years removed from their abuse, still living in fear of being recognized from photos and videos on the internet. And parents of the abused, struggling to cope with the guilt of not having prevented it and their powerlessness over stopping its online spread. . . . The groups use encrypted technologies and the dark web, the vast underbelly of the internet, to teach pedophiles how to carry out the crimes and how to record and share images of the abuse worldwide. . . . Testimony in his criminal case revealed that it would have taken the authorities “trillions of years” to crack the 41-character password he had used to encrypt the site. He eventually turned it over to investigators, and was sentenced to life in prison in 2016. . . . “capturing the abuse on video was part of the excitement,” according to court records. . . . 
The surge in criminal activity on the dark web accounted for only a fraction of the 18.4 million reports of abuse last year. That number originates almost entirely with tech companies based in the United States. . . . . Facebook and Google, stepped up surveillance of their platforms . . . “The companies knew the house was full of roaches, and they were scared to turn the lights on,” he said. “And then when they did turn the lights on, it was worse than they thought.” . . . In interviews, law enforcement officials pointed to Tumblr, a blogging and social networking site with 470 million users, as one of the most problematic companies. . . . The internet is well known as a haven for hate speech, terrorism-related content and criminal activity, all of which have raised alarms and spurred public debate and action. But the problem of child sexual abuse imagery faces a particular hurdle: It gets scant attention because few people want to confront the enormity and horror of the content, or they wrongly dismiss it as primarily teenagers sending inappropriate selfies."

Numbers doubled in a year. So where are all the pedophiles coming from?? I'm in the middle of a book discussing the concerns of John Adams and the founding fathers with women taking over the household - "despotism of the petticoat" - and it makes me think of this quote, "When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression." To what extent, I wonder, is this a reaction by men - and it's almost entirely men - losing absolute power in the home and unfettered access to women who were, until very recently, afraid of speaking out?? This seems to be where people turn who just want to dominate something. We have to find means of better helping men get through this change in social norms so they don't seek power in the most horrific avenues. And we need these agencies to get much more funding!

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