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TikTok Facilitating Sexual Exploitation of Minors

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The globally popular app TikTok is worrying experts who say it is becoming a breeding ground for the sexual exploitation of young girls. Particularly worrisome to legal, law enforcement, and children’s safety experts is the TikTok “live” feature.

Forbes reports that many children at alarming rates are engaging in transactions with adults that include sexual favors. In theory the app has security measures in place such as a minimum age requirement of 18 in order to be able to exchange money. No one under age 16 is allowed to go live. They are a poor deterrent to predators.

Austin Berrier, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations who specializes in live-streamed cyber crimes and child sexual abuse, said often alarms are not raised among parents or authorities because monetization is “through tokens or flowers or stupid little emojis.”

John Shehan, a vice president at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, told Forbes the predators form relationships and trust with the children. “That’s how it starts,”  he said.

But, the interactions “quickly go from images of the feet, whether there’s monetary compensation or just the fact that they’re willing to take those images, that move off-platform into other platforms or other environments where they continue to ask for additional photographs, more sexually suggestive, that then very quickly turn into pornographic images,” he said. “And then before you know it, it’s a sextortion case.”

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Audit Finds Half of President Biden’s Twitter Followers are Fake Bots

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President Joe Biden has an impressive 22.2 million followers on Twitter; but apparently half of them are bots. According to an audit tool from software company SparkToro, “49.3 percent of account’s following the official @POTUS Twitter account are ‘fake followers” reports Newsweek.

SparkToro defines “fake” as “accounts that are unreachable and will not see the account’s tweets (either because they’re spam, bots, propaganda, etc. or because they’re no longer active on Twitter.”

Analysis was conducted based on factors such as location issues, default profile images and new users. The information is of particular importance as Elon Musk has expressed his concern at the overwhelming number of fake accounts on the giant platform. Specifically, he claimed 20 percent of Twitter accounts were “fake/spam accounts” and that the figure is “4 times what Twitter claims” or even higher.

“Musk said early on Tuesday that his $44-billion deal to purchase the social media company could not go ahead until issues with fake accounts were resolved and appeared to criticize Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal” adds Newsweek.

The accusation put the acquisition in jeopardy, with the two men exchanging a series of tweets about the fake accounts issue on Monday.

The back-and-forth comes after Musk tweeted Friday that the deal to buy Twitter was placed on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts represent less than 5% of users.

“My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate,” Musk wrote. “Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.”

“We suspend over half a million spam accounts every day, usually before any of you even see them on Twitter. We also lock millions of accounts each week that we suspect may be spam, if they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc),” Agrawal wrote.

SparkToro’s tool also found that of Musk’s 93.3 million followers, 70.2 percent of those accounts are fake.

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