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Twitter’s attempt to monetize porn reportedly halted due to child safety warnings

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There are increased pressures on Twitter to monetize their platform, so they have been contemplating monetizing adult content.

Originally, Twitter was thinking of becoming a competitor to OnlyFans. This would have meant that adult creators were able to sell subscriptions on the social media platform. With how popular social media platforms are already, this wouldn’t be absurd to imagine that there is an interest in this opportunity for those who are unrelated to the adult industry.

Twitter shelved the project to find CSAM and non-consensual nudity at scale after 84 employees reported that Twitter could not detect if a person was underage and cannot verify if users created or consumed adult content.

To detect these, platforms use Microsoft’s PhotoDNA database. But if a piece of this type of content isn’t already part of the database, images can evade detection by the naked eye.

Using the same technology as almost every other social media website, Twitter is actively defending themselves against content published by malicious actors.

Compared to the financial success of other companies, Twitter’s yearly revenue is small–$5 billion in 2021. However, Google was able to make a profit of $257 billion this year. And, machine learning-powered mechanisms aren’t foolproof.

In a recent story, a father contacted his doctor about his son’s swolen genitals which was painful. The man sent photos of the result to the doctor to show what had happened. The content moderation system for Google flagged these medical images as explicit content and locked out the man from all his Google Accounts. Posing more issues, the police were alerted of this through contact with the father and went straight to investigate him but ironically couldn’t not reach him because his Google phone was disconnected.

Green thinks there needs to be a better way to distinguish between content. Though they are powerful, he is worried that AI could result in mistakes if they are not set up the right way.

Although this type of technology is often used to keep children from being exploited, critics argue that the cost of this protection can be too high. With Apple’s CSAM detection technology called NeuralHash, for example, experts point out that it can also be easily abused by government authorities.

Joe Mullin is a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and wrote in a blog post about the ethical implications of Google’s new machine learning system, which reports comments from YouTube users that could potentially be harmful.

Twitter has a difficult issue: because Twitter is so large, detecting CSAM is nearly impossible. This makes it impossible for the company to invest in more robust safeguards. The priorities of Twitter’s health and safety team have also been impacted by Elon Musk’s potential acquisition of the company; they now focus on removing spam accounts rather than terminating bots. Last week, their health team was reorganized to remove bots from Twitter more efficiently.

With Musk’s trial, all of Twitter’s good or bad actions will be weighed. There could be hundreds of millions if not billions on the line.

Twitter did not comment on whether their decision was due to child safety warnings.

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