Social media gives children access to porn, claims new documentary

Twitter could be a gateway to porn for children and teenagers because of its lack of age verification procedures, a new documentary is set to claim.

Twitter could be a gateway to porn for children.
Twitter could be a gateway to porn for children.

Generation Porn, which starts on Channel 4 tonight, hears from one UK porn boss the social media platform is “one of the biggest porn sites in the world”. The programme claims children as young as 11 regularly view porn often through social media.

The revelation comes as online age verification provider AgeChecked said parents were increasingly worried social media sites allow pornographic footage to be viewed by young children.

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However, Twitter rejected the claims and said that it prohibited adult content to be shown in users’ profile or header images or in any live video, and that all “sensitive content” had to be labelled as such.

Alastair Graham, chief executive of AgeChecked, said while sites such as Facebook and Twitter expect users to be 13, new research showed more than half of children in the UK use social media before the age of ten.

He said a new AgeChecked survey also found 71 per cent of parents worry about the safety risks social media platforms present, with 57 per cent saying measures to prevent children accessing age-inappropriate content were ineffective and a further 70 per cent concerned about easy access to video-sharing platforms where disturbing content could be viewed.

“For parents, monitoring their child’s online activity has become a near-impossible task,” Mr Graham said. “Social media companies have a duty of care to young people and must ensure that those who are accessing their sites meet their minimum age requirement. Appropriate measures such as robust, integrated age-verification systems must be taken to ensure young people are protected from potentially harmful material.”

Underlining the AgeChecked survey results, the Channel 4 documentary shows how easy it is for teenagers to access porn via Twitter.

Joe Todd, boss of UK porn firm Fake Taxi, says: “All you have to do is click that button [display sensitive content] and you can watch as much porn as you want on Twitter ... you don’t need to go onto a porn site. That’s why I think a lot of people don’t realise about Twitter, it’s one of the biggest porn sites in the world.”

He adds: “People can watch anything on Twitter, so let’s say you’ve got a 13-year-old boy right, you can just sign up as a straight-up, like brand new Twitter account as a teenager. No age verification on that. As a parent if you’re letting your 13-year-old have free reign on their iPhone, even if you’re strict, there’s no way of stopping it.”

However, according to Ofcom, Twitter is listed by just 2 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds as one of their main social media apps.

A Twitter spokesperson said: “Under our sensitive media policy, Twitter prohibits images of adult content in profile or header pictures, and in live video or Periscope.

“As per this policy, we also require those posting sensitive content to label their content as such so it is hidden behind an interstitial and marked as sensitive.

“Additionally, we’ve implemented Safe Search as Twitter’s default setting, so users have to be looking for graphic content to find it.”