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The Street
The Street
Luc Olinga

Elon Musk Promotes Negative Report on Mark Zuckerberg's Empire

Elon Musk never misses an opportunity to criticize Mark Zuckerberg. 

It was he who dubbed the Meta Platforms CEO "Zuck the Fourteenth," an apparent nod to the French King Louis XIV, famous for his hubris and excess.

The billionaire did so in April 2022, during a TED interview with Chris Anderson, when he was pushing back on a potential conflict of interest: his owning Twitter and being one of its most influential users:

"As for media sort of ownership, I mean, you've got, you know, Zuck work [at and owning] Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp, and with a share ownership structure that will have Zuckerberg the 14th still controlling those entities. [We] certainly won't have that at Twitter. If you commit to opening up the algorithm, that definitely gives some level of confidence."

Basically, for Musk, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion last October, Zuckerberg is an omnipresent emperor with dictatorial impulses.

So when the opportunity is too good to miss, Musk does not hesitate to seize it.

Instagram Reportedly Promotes Pedophilia

The Wall Street Journal published an article claiming that Instagram's algorithms promote pedophilia. The article is based on investigations conducted by the newspaper and by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The conclusions are scathing for the very popular social network.

The reporting showed that Instagram helps connect and promote a vast network of accounts openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage-sex content. The newspaper found that unlike the forums and file-transfer services that cater to people who are interested in illicit content, Instagram doesn’t merely host these activities. 

"Its algorithms promote them. Instagram connects pedophiles and guides them to content sellers via recommendation systems that excel at linking those who share niche interests," the report says.

On Instagram, for example, users can search using hashtags like #pedoshore and #preteensex. This can then connect them with accounts that use these terms to advertise child-sex material for sale. What is striking, says The Wall Street Journal, is that these accounts claim to be run by the children themselves. They use overtly sexual handles incorporating words such as "little slut for you.”

"Extremely concerning," Musk reacted, shining the spotlight on this devastating investigation for Zuckerberg and Meta, parent of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Meta (META) didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk Is Loud Against Pedophilia on Social Media

The researchers also found 128 accounts offering to sell child-sex-abuse material on Twitter, less than a third of the number they found on Instagram, which has a far larger overall user base than Twitter. 

But they say that Twitter didn't recommend such accounts to the same degree as Instagram. Musk's platform also took them down far more quickly, according to the researchers.

As for other platforms popular with young people, the researchers found that TikTok's platform is one where "this type of content does not appear to proliferate." Snapchat is used mainly for its direct messaging, so it doesn't help create networks.

Musk is often one of the biggest critics of Zuckerberg and his empire. But the entrepreneur, who owns Twitter, is also one of the loudest Silicon Valley voices regularly denouncing pedophilia on social media. Last year, while he was in the process of acquiring the microblogging website, he attacked Twitter on the same subject.

Last September, a study from cybersecurity firm Ghost Data on online child sex abuse found that more than 30 brands ranging from Walt Disney (DIS) to Coca-Cola (KO) to NBCUniversal (CMCSA) had ads that appeared on Twitter account pages with content promoting child pornography.

Marketing campaigns from vehicle manufacturer Mazda  (MZDAY) , appliance producer Dyson and chemicals company Ecolab (ECL) were placed alongside tweets soliciting child pornography.

Twitter said at the time that it "discovered that ads were running within profiles that were involved with publicly selling or soliciting child sexual abuse material.”

"We were able to identify over 500 active Twitter accounts that openly shared or requested child pornography material in a period spanning from September 1st to September 20," Ghost Data said in its report. "These 500 accounts produced more than 10,000 tweets, almost half about to trading of illicit material."

"These accounts accumulated over 2,000 unique followers. At least several of these followers, even if they do not show any public activities, are likely involved in illicit trade of child porn material," the firm added.

Twitter suspended only 27.5% of the users that publicly shared child pornography links, material, and references in the first 20 days of September, Ghost Data said.

"We consistently invest in resources to provide advertisers with products and tools to meet their brand suitability needs, including providing the ability to opt-out of placement in search and profiles entirely as an additional layer of control and risk mitigation," Twitter told TheStreet at the time.

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