A concerned mother who discovered that her 13-year-old son had direct access to explicit adult content using Twitter now wants age restrictions.
Liana, 40, from south Brisbane was shocked to discover that her 13-year-old son had extremely graphic and explicit videos and images saved on his phone. Her son claims he saved them from Twitter.
Liana is a single Australian mother from south Brisbane, Australia. Her and her 13-year-old son live in a small duplex together, and when she’s not cooking and cleaning, she is working long hours to provide for small family.
Liana, who has been a lifelong labour party voter, has always considered herself a progressive mother despite strictly monitoring her son’s online activities.
“I’ve heard so many horrific stories of kids groomed and abducted from strangers online,” she told us. “So I am very cautious when it comes to what apps my son is downloading.”
“I heard about the video on the news and my son turned to me and said that he’d seen the video. I was shocked. I took his phone and deleted the app,” she explained.
She decided to use the opportunity to go through some other apps installed on his phone. Her son had Snap Chat installed, but he used it mostly to communicate with his class mates. Other than that there really wasn’t anything else that Liana thought was problematic… that’s until she opened Twitter.
“I don’t use Twitter, but I see a lot of TV shows, celebrities, and companies promote their hashtags and usernames. I really didn’t a lot about it until I opened the app for myself and checked it out.”
“My 13-year-old son had 3,000 followers which absolutely terrified me. Who is following my son on the internet? Is here anyway of checking this? Their profile pictures were mostly of cartoon characters and some of their bios would show little info like age, location, likes… and even sexual orientation.”
“One profile I distinctly remember had a profile picture of a young cartoon girl. The person claimed to be 13-years-old girl, but said that she was looking for a sexual partner who shared her kinks,” she added.
Liana immediately reported the account believing it could be an adult posing as child to groom children.
“There’s absolutely no way to verify you are or identity on this app. I decided to create an account. It took me 1 minute and all I needed was an email address.”
She continued to scroll through her son’s timeline to find very explicit adult content and even lewd content of underage kids.
“Just a few scrolls down the page and I the entire screen was covered in p*rnographic material, and I swear some of it was of girls the same age as my son.”
She searched Twitter’s terms of service to find that they are very liberal when it comes to posting adult content; you are allowed to post violent or sexual images and videos on Twitter, just not in your profile picture or in your banner.
“It was apparent that my son was mostly using Twitter to access adult content. I even clicked on a post from the official Xbox Twitter account to find more adult content. Surely, this app is not made for children, I thought.”
The 40-year-old south Brisbane mother was mortified to find out that the minimum age requirement for creating a Twitter account is, in fact, 13.
“I’m shocked and disgusted that Twitter is making it so easy for children to access graphic adult content. I learned that you can turn the ‘sensitive content’ filter on but it is a simple toggle. Twitter doesn’t verify your age, and is giving children the option of whether they want to see adult content. Children cannot consent. This should be investigated!” Liana demanded.
The mother deactivated her sons Twitter account and deleted the app. When she confronted her son, he explained that he only created an account to follow his favourite YouTuber.
“I can’t be mad at him. He’s a child and really is a victim in all of this, but I expect our government to force restrictions on this app, and that the Twitter be held accountable for exposing my son, and any other child, to such ‘sensitive’ content.”
As an Australian mother Liana is very concerned and has contacted her local government in hopes to raise the issue and make other parents aware of the content that their children have easy access to.