Have you ever wondered if any of the well-established brands or businesses you support, profit from or facilitate sexual exploitation?
The National Center On Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) can inform you. Each year they make it a top priority to find out which corporations are the worst offenders. When these entities refuse to adjust their business practices, they find themselves on the Dirty Dozen List.
According to NCOSE, the purpose of the Dirty Dozen List is to “name and shame the bad corporate actors in America that perpetuate sexual exploitation —whether that be through pornography, prostitution or sex trafficking.”
The list is a tool for effecting change. In the past five years NCOSE has influenced major corporations such as Google, Hilton Worldwide, and Walmart among others to make significant policy adjustments.
Some of the names on this year’s list may not come as a surprise (Twitter, Cosmopolitan, HBO) while others are more shocking (Amazon, Amnesty International, EBSCO —an educational database used in schools K-12). What is certain to catch your attention is the extent to which all of these corporations profit from sexual exploitation.
Why the “List” earns our respect
The offences that place businesses on the Dirty Dozen List are extremely well researched and clearly annotated. NCOSE thoroughly explains the problem, gives proof, and provides resources and tools for individuals to take action. They also follow through with regular updates when corporations take appropriate measures to remove themselves from the list.
Note: NCOSE rarely advocates for boycotts against the Dirty Dozen. Rather they understand that when consumers start to pay attention and speak their mind, it significantly impacts how businesses choose to operate.
Our top three
Even though NCOSE is a U.S. based non-profit organization, most of the corporations on the Dirty Dozen List have global reach. We’ve chosen to highlight three of these. The third on our list is probably the most distressing because of the direct impact it has on the information children are receiving via school resources K-12.
Read to the end to find out how one parent’s immediate response has already made an impact in her school district.
With 300 million monthly active users, Twitter is the third most popular social media site. What you may not know is that it also serves as a major platform to disseminate hardcore pornography and facilitate prostitution with over 10 000 accounts containing sexually explicit content. Twitter has become the social media tool of choice for those in the business of sexual exploitation. Pornographic performers learn quickly that when accounts are cancelled on Facebook or Instagram, they can easily move over to Twitter. It is considered a platform without filters.
Along with turning a blind eye to advertisements for prostitution and the recruiting of individuals for sexual exploitation, Twitter accounts have also been found to contain incest and rape themed pornography.
Images of sexualized minors flourish on Twitter. Not only do sexual abuse images (child pornography) go uncensored by app administrators, innocent photos of children with sexually explicit hashtags are freely shared for the purpose of sexual arousal. NCOSE states unequivocally:
“Twitter is responsible for enforcing its existing policies against pornographic content, and for proactively ensuring its platform is a safe, user friendly environment.”
What YOU CAN DO to stop sexual exploitation on Twitter
- NCOSE asks that individuals email Twitter executives here
- Raise awareness of the need for Twitter to improve its policies
- Use the hashtag #CleanUpTwitter across all social media platforms
- Use graphics found here to post on all social media platforms
2. Snapchat & Snapcash
Snapchat boasts 100 million daily active users. But what is most significant is 71% of Snapchat users are under the age of 25. It is arguably the most popular smartphone app used by Millennials and teens. Surveys indicate that most individuals use Snapchat to send harmless picture conversations but there is a much darker side to the app as well.
Since its conception in 2011, Snapchat has been criticized for promoting the practice of sexting. There are more than 15 thousand news articles online which explain how the Snapchat app is used to send sexually explicit material. Sadly, much of the pornographic content on Snapchat is created and distributed by minors. Most kids don’t realize they can be charged with the distribution of child pornography or how easily these images can make their way to third party sites.
NCOSE has been warning individuals about the inherent dangers of Snapchat since the beginning but it is the introduction of Snapcash that has earned Snapchat a place on the Dirty Dozen List for the first time.
Over a year ago the New York Times wrote an article explaining, “Strippers and porn stars have started to use Snapchat to send videos and photos of themselves naked for a small fee. Some transactions are as inexpensive as $1 to $5 for a few personalized photos. The prices can reach double digits for personalized sex shows.”
The practice of paying for sexually explicit content via Snapcash has grown exponentially. Since the introduction of Snapcash in 2014, Snapchat’s profits have increased from $3 million to $50 million annually. NCOSE asserts:
“Snapchat’s business model facilitates sexual exploitation, yielding hefty profits without any regard for the associated harms.”
What YOU CAN DO to stop sexual exploitation on Snapchap
- NCOSE asks that individuals email Snapchat executives here
- Talk to your children and teens regularly about digital safety
- Remind children, “Once on the Internet, always on the Internet!” (88% of self-made sexually explicit images posted online end up stolen)
- Consider using the same social media tools as your children to learn about their benefits and how to avoid risks.
3. EBSCO Information Services
Probably the most disturbing name on the Dirty Dozen List this year is EBSCO.
EBSCO Information Services is an online database (search engine) offering library educational resources to schools (K-12), universities, public libraries and more. EBSCO promotes itself as providing students with “fast access to curriculum-appropriate content” but a closer look actually reveals that they have been offering young students access to XXX material. Even more alarming is the fact that EBSCO search results easily bypass school filtering software.
Concerned about the alarming reports coming in from parents across the US and Canada, NCOSE was eager to test the site. To their astonishment they found that it was incredibly easy for students to stumble upon pornographic content. Innocent word searches such as 7th grade biology turned up dozens of explicit, even unrelated articles, as the most relevant and first suggestions.
It gets worse!
Beyond its standard database, EBSCO also promotes additional products to schools and on their website. Many schools choose to subscribe to these products including, Explora, NoveList, Science Reference Center, and more.
“NCOSE has ascertained that each of the these specially designed products are categorically filled with soft pornography, links to hardcore pornography, sexually explicit written descriptions, and advice and tutorials normalizing and glamorizing risky sexual behaviors.”
Common themes found in search results include:
- BDSM and torture sex
- Sexual relationships between student and teacher
- Sexual violence and rape
- Encouraging children to use pornography to learn about sex
What YOU CAN DO to stop sexual exploitation from EBSCO
- Find out if your school uses EBSCO. Use your school website and navigate to the library portal.
- Look for online databases or research materials.
- If you see an EBSCO product, please email the National Coalition on Sexual Exploitation at email@example.com and provide the URL where you found this. Include the school name with the province or state in your email.
- Contact your school and tell them why they need to remove these products from their website.
One letter really can make a difference
After discovering the EBSCO database on her school’s website, one parent took immediate action. She forwarded the blog post, Popular Online Database Leads School Kids to Porn written by Kristen Jenson to the school’s administration. They confirmed the inappropriate links and promptly removed them. Here is the response from administration:
“Thanks for your email alerting us to the unacceptable EBSCO links. We have viewed the video and confirmed on our own that these inappropriate links are active at Richland HS and Hanford HS. Middle and elementary schools in the district do not subscribe to EBSCO. We have directed the respective librarians to remove the EBSCO link now. We will contact EBSCO to seek a permanent solution that does not allow access to pornographic content.”
NCOSE has been working tirelessly for more than six decades to help protect children and families from sexual exploitation. Give them your support by taking action against at least one of the businesses on the Dirty Dozen List. Like and Share this article to spread awareness of these issues.
EBSCO UPDATE: 2/22/17
EBSCO executives contacted NCOSE … and have shared that they are concerned about the explicit and pornographic content accessible via their database and that they are actively working to develop new algorithms and better filtering systems.
While EBSCO remains on the Dirty Dozen List until these improvements have been implemented system-wide and verified, NCOSE is encouraged by EBSCO’s response and will collaborate with the company in their process to better protect school children using their products. —NCOSE
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