WATCH: Ted Cruz berates Zuckerberg for connecting pedophiles online

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    Back in July last year, a joint investigation from The Wall Street Journal and academics at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst revealed the extent to which Instagram’s recommendation systems “connects pedophiles and guides them to content sellers.” 

    Instagram’s algorithms are actively promoting networks of pedophiles who commission and sell child sexual abuse content on Meta’s popular image sharing app. 

    The Verge referencing The Wall Street Journal

    Accounts found by the researchers are advertised using blatant and explicit hashtags like #pedowhore, #preteensex, and #pedobait. They offer “menus” of content for users to buy or commission, including videos and imagery of self-harm and bestiality. When researchers set up a test account and viewed content shared by these networks, they were immediately recommended more accounts to follow.

    As the WSJ reports: “Following just a handful of these recommendations was enough to flood a test account with content that sexualizes children.”

    Yesterday, Ted Cruz confronted Zuckerberg on the Instagram Wall Street Journal story (above) that exposed that social media was connecting pedophiles with pizza code words and Instagram’s own algorithm was helping pedophiles find content.

    When Cruz showed Zuckerberg Instagram’s warning screen that said: “See results anyway” the crowd audibly gasped.

    Cruz went on:

    “Instagram also displayed the following warning screen to individuals who were searching for child abuse material: ‘These results may contain images of child sexual abuse.’ And then you gave users two choices: ‘Get resources’ or ‘See results anyway.’ Mr. Zuckerberg, what the hell were you thinking?”

    “All right, senator, the basic science behind that is that when people are searching for something that is problematic, it’s often helpful to, rather than just blocking it, to help direct them towards something that could be helpful for getting them to get help,” Zuckerberg replied.

    “I understand ‘get resources’ — in what sane universe is there a link for ‘see results anyway’?” Cruz shouted back.

    “Well, because we might be wrong,” Zuckerberg said.