Facebook and Google are facing fresh allegations for putting up adverts for major brands in child abuse discovery apps.
Following this discovery, the NSPCC charity has called for tech giants to be monitored by a new regulator, to combat their excesses. The apps which were used to perpetrate the act have been taken down, according to the tech giants involved. The app on Google’s Play Store directed subscribers to the WhatsApp groups which had the illicit contents.
The head of the internet safety at the child protection campaign accused tech companies of been lackadaisical in matters concerning children’s safety.
“WhatsApp is not doing anywhere near enough to stop the spread of child sexual abuse images on its app. For too long, tech companies have been left to their own devices and failed to keep children safe.”
The charity organisation is proposing that a watchdog with a higher authority and the power to impose huge fines whenever there’s a fallout should be employed, as this would enable them spend more to avoid promoting contents that support child abuse.
A two-part investigation carried out by an Israeli child protection start-up, Antitoxin Technologies and two NGOs revealed that Google and Facebook reportedly leveraged on third-party software to enable their intentions go unnoticed. They placed adverts in six apps that let users join other WhatsApp groups. Meanwhile, this feature is prohibited in WhatsApp.
A search word, “child” directed the users to links to join groups, which was a clear indication that the purpose of such feature was to share illicit videos and pictures. Having these apps on Apple’s App Store would have easily raised suspicions about Google’s policies. It was therefore a smart move to leverage on third-party apps to make them difficult to detect, the investigation reported.
The chief marketing officer, Roi Carthy reported that “the link-sharing apps were mind-boggling easy to find and download off of Google Play”.
Google has denied any ties with the supposed owners of the ads. It responded to the allegations by taking down the apps from its store. The firm says the firm has a “zero-tolerance approach to child sexual abuse material” and would “thoroughly investigate any claims of this kind”.
“As soon as we became aware of these WhatsApp group link apps using our services, we removed them from the Play Store and stopped ads.”
The spokesperson for Google defended further that the advertisers earn them very little revenue and that they would be refunded duly in accordance with the policies.
In its own defence, Facebook says it pays keen attention to matters surrounding child abuse.
“We deploy our most advanced technology, including artificial intelligence to scan profile photos and actively ban accounts suspected of sharing this vile content. Sadly, because both app stores and communications services are being misused to spread abusive content, technology companies must work together to stop it.”
The social network says it’s also refunding advertisers in accordance with its policies.