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Child porn sharing WhatsApp groups expose present social media’s inefficient moderating systems

In wake of Tech Crunch’s recent report on the issue of child porn being circulated on WhatsApp, Google made efforts to take down the third party apps that led to the sharing of child pornography. The report delineated how WhatsApp group discovery apps on Google PlayStore had “Adult” sections that provided users with invite links to enter groups that shared child porn images and videos.

This issue was first brought to light by a couple of NGOs in Israel and later brought to Google’s notice via TechCrunch’s article. Google has so far taken down “Group links for Whats” by Lisa Studio – a major source for such material (the app had over 100,000 downloads on PlayStore) and over five similar apps. However, these despicable apps still seem to be functional on devices that downloaded them.

It is no secret that pornography is a prevalent force on the internet. But this incident exposes the incompetence of WhatsApp and Facebook. It is appalling to see one of the biggest messaging platforms in the world utilize just 300 technicians to moderate its platform. This is despite the fact that their parent company – Facebook has a 22,000 dedicated security and moderation staffers exclusively for this purpose. The company’s A.I system just doesn’t cut it anymore and it’s pretty evident that WhatsApp needs to invest more into human investigators in order to protect its 1.5 billion user base.

Source: Tech Crunch

This problem also reveals the ineptness of Google. AntiToxin – an algorithm startup that fights online toxicity showed that these apps were supported by Google’s and Facebook’s ad networks. They hosted ads for many companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Motorola, Sprint, Sprite, Western Union, Dyson, DJI, Gett, Yandex Music, Q Link Wireless, Tik Tok, and more. This implies that Google and Facebook in effect, not only failed to identify these illegal activities but instead monetized them and even made money off of it; as a certain portion of the advertiser’s money goes into the pockets of Ad hosts.

Google responded to Tech Crunch by saying that the group discovery apps violated its content policies and is hence, taking them off the Store and suspending their access to its ads networks.


“Google has a zero tolerance approach to child sexual abuse material and we’ve invested in technology, teams and partnerships with groups like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to tackle this issue for more than two decades. If we identify an app promoting this kind of material that our systems haven’t already blocked, we report it to the relevant authorities and remove it from our platform. These policies apply to apps listed in the Play store as well as apps that use Google’s advertising services.”

Spokesperson, Google.

Facebook too responded by saying it will refund advertisers whose promotions appeared on these apps and take down Audience Network – Facebook’s advertising network from all apps that involve in WhatsApp group discovery.


“WhatsApp does not provide a search function for people or groups – nor does WhatsApp encourage publication of invite links to private groups. WhatsApp regularly engages with Google and Apple to enforce their terms of service on apps that attempt to encourage abuse on WhatsApp. Following the reports earlier this week, WhatsApp asked Google to remove all known group link sharing apps. When apps are removed from Google Play store, they are also removed from Audience Network.”

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