Twitter is being sued over allegations it allowed sexually-explicit videos to be posted on its website despite the pleas of the underage victim to remove them.
The federal lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California, which includes Twitter's worldwide headquarters in San Francisco.
Peter Gentala, senior legal counsel for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, says the alleged victim referred to as “John Doe” is a “courageous young man” who saw his own images get posted on Twitter and distributed all over the social media site.
The lawsuit is a joint project between NCOSE and attorney Lisa Haba of The Haba Law Firm.
Gentala says the lawsuit focuses on the fact that the then-teen, at age 16, asked Twitter to remove videos of him from its platform that dated back to age 13, when he was extorted and threatened by someone online who pretended to be another young teen.
“[John Doe] told them he was a minor. He gave them evidence that he was a minor and asked them to take it down,” the attorney alleges. “Twitter not only refused to take it down, it sent a message back to him telling him that it did not violate their community standards."
It took a take-down demand from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to force Twitter to take action after the explicit material was viewed more than 167,000 times and shared more than 2,200 times, the lawsuit claims.
“More people get their news, their information, and other content from those platforms than from any other,” Gentala tells One News Now. “So when Twitter on its platform distributes the world's most damaging and harmful content, like child sex abuse materials or child pornography, it has a very deleterious effect across the world and especially for the children depicted in that."