A growing community of pedophiles is sweeping social media. They’re rebranding themselves as “MAPs” or “minor-attracted people” in an attempt to sound more socially acceptable, and social media sites are doing absolutely nothing about it.
“MAP pride” is a movement that appeared on underground social media site Tumblr, a site primarily used by teenagers, in the mid-2010s. In this movement, the mostly anonymous “MAPs” share their desire for pedophilia to be normalized and accepted as a sexual orientation akin to the LGBT community. They have even designed their own flag. Posters often complain about the “prejudice” and “oppression” they face from being so open about their attractions online. The movement has since spread onto more mainstream social media sites — predominantly Twitter.
The mostly anonymous “MAPs” share their desire for pedophilia to be normalized and accepted as a sexual orientation.
Pedophile Communities Are Gaining Traction Online
Such virtuous sounding language is something that children could be easily taken in by, should they come across this community. Disturbingly, many “MAP” accounts appear to have children's cartoon characters as their profile pictures, and in the past year, there has been a surge of minor accounts claiming to be “MAP allies” on Twitter.
The dangers of pedophiles on the internet are obvious, but why is a community of them even worse? “MAP” accounts are seemingly split between “pro-contact” and “not pro-contact” depending on whether the individuals are for or against abusing children. While the latter claim that the community acts as a “support group” and lowers their risk of abuse, research suggests that when pedophiles network they become more likely to offend due to communal validation and the obvious opportunity to create a trafficking or porn ring.
Research suggests that when pedophiles network they become more likely to offend due to communal validation.
And that’s exactly what’s happening. Some Twitter accounts are openly sharing inappropriate images of children, and others have child porn advertised for sale in their bios. Terrifyingly, some users even have prices listed on their pages for the sale of children.
What Twitter Does and Doesn’t Do about It
Twitter claims to have a “zero-tolerance child exploitation policy,” but it updated this policy in 2019 to allow the “discussion” of attraction towards minors. Many users of the site have called the update contradictory and incompatible with the policy, which also says that any content “promoting or depicting” child sexual exploitation is not permitted. This clearly isn't working; in 2019, the Internet Watch Foundation found that almost 50% of child abuse material it found publicly online came from Twitter.
The increasing brazenness of people who once hid in the shadows, and Twitter's unwillingness to de-platform them, leads to a worrying question: Is the culture of extreme political correctness enabling pedophilia pride? In a world where opposing any belief or inclination, no matter how awful, is ruled as discriminatory — is this the inevitable outcome? The treatment of people who oppose these communities further speaks to this theory.
Twitter updated its policy in 2019 to allow the “discussion” of attraction towards minors.
The self-proclaimed “MAP police” are pages dedicated to seeking out these accounts and sending their followers to mass report them to Twitter. Accounts rarely seem to get taken down, however. Moreover, those who expose and take issue with the community often end up having their own pages suspended for “hateful conduct.” Some “police” pages do report the accounts to the real police, but, unfortunately, the problem is just too big. And without an appropriate response from the platform itself, it’s only going to get bigger.
Twitter is protecting pedophiles. The fact that there appears to be no algorithm in place to automatically remove child abuse content is shocking. What’s even worse is that moderators reviewing complaints seem to be actively choosing to not do anything about it. Twitter needs to amend its policy change, make clear what’s unacceptable, and enforce it. Urge Twitter to take action by emailing its executives through the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s website here.