A number of Twitter accounts have been shut down after it was discovered that they contained disturbing images of child abuse, ITV has reported.
The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a child protection charity in the UK, were first notified late Sunday and quickly let their Twitter followers know about the situation.
“People have expressed concern about a twitter feed with disturbing images of children. We’ve alerted CEOP [Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre]. They are looking at it urgently,”
The NSPCC said that hacking groups claimed to have unmasked the accounts after they opened a number of accounts that were previously hidden from public view.
CEOP received around 25 to 30 reports on at least four accounts, which will be investigated in the U.S. (where Twitter is based). Twitter is then obligated by law to forward any information they find to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which is the U.S. equivalent of CEOP.
A CEOP spokesman explained:
“NCMEC will then forward information for investigation to law enforcement agencies in the relevant country where the user is believed to be based, or children believed to be at risk”
It is unclear whether the users who uploaded the disturbing images were located in the UK or outside the country, and the nationalities of the children involved are not yet known.
The NSPCC asked for people to be vigilant and to report activity when they become aware of it.
“To be honest, it’s not a massive surprise,” the spokesman said. “In our experience, sex offenders will use whichever mean they can to connect with each other. They are usually quite devious.”
Twitter has yet to comment on the closed accounts, but its policy explicitly states it does not tolerate child sexual exploitation.
“When we are made aware of links to images of or content promoting child sexual exploitation they will be removed from the site without further notice and reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC); we permanently suspend accounts promoting or containing updates with links to child sexual exploitation.”