Twitter paedos exposed: Vile perverts using social networking site to find victims and trade intelligence
Suspect: Officers lead a man away from his east London flat
Within two minutes of searching we found 20 paedophiles wanting to abuse young children - and 200 in two hours.
Twitter is a paedophiles’ playground, with perverts using the site to swap vile images and videos of children, a shocking Sunday Mirror investigation has found.
We uncovered disturbing evidence that hundreds of sex offenders are operating on the social networking site and using it to find young victims and trade intelligence.
After we tipped off police, Scotland Yard detectives carried out a dramatic dawn raid, arrested a man and woman at their flat and seized computer equipment.
The male suspect had been working at the Olympics in London.
Friday morning’s arrests came after we gave police details of a Twitter profile, and direct messages that had been sent on the site.
Police yesterday praised the Sunday Mirror for handing them details of the investigation.
Det Sgt Simon Giles said: “Friday’s operation demonstrates the Paedophile Unit’s commitment to safeguarding the most vulnerable and targeting dangerous offenders. I would like to thank the Sunday Mirror for supporting this work.”
As a result of our probe, Twitter closed down 36 profiles used by individuals to discuss child abuse and swap information.
Politicians called last night for an immediate clean-up of the site.
Every parent will be shocked by our findings. Twitter has 500million users worldwide, including many children who avidly follow their celebrity idols and sports stars.
Within TWO MINUTES of going online we found 20 users who openly expressed their interest in under-age images and child abuse.
After two hours we had discovered 200 perverts.
Confronted: Officers from the Paedophile Unit quiz the suspect
Child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas, a former detective who led our investigation, said the use of Twitter by paedophiles was “out of control”.
Probe: A woman is take in for questioning
Some Twitter profiles even have names that openly suggest child abuse, such as “pedo-bear”. Others use pictures of semi-naked under-age girls and boys alongside their names.
The investigation is the first of its kind into Twitter.
Criminologist Mr Williams-Thomas said the site should take urgent action to stop people who were clearly intent on committing sexual offences from using the site.
He said: “Twitter is providing an open platform for paedophiles and they have a professional and moral responsibility to do something about it.
“These individuals are communicating with each other and sharing information of child abuse under the radar of the site. Twitter is five years behind Facebook when it comes to monitoring and policing its site.
“It is not good enough just to close down the profiles when they get a complaint. These individuals will just open up a new profile.”
Mr Williams-Thomas began his investigation by creating a fake profile and putting in key words paedophiles frequently use.
He was immediately befriended by one user, who described himself as “totally perverted with no morals”.
In a direct message the user wrote: “So what u up to today. I’m home alone and horny as hell looking pics of sweet yng things.”
Mr Williams-Thomas told the user he was a ballet teacher and asked the pervert what age he preferred.
The user responded simply: “3-12yrs”. Disturbingly, they then added: “I have a small amount of pics, some vids.”
And showing knowledge of paedophile terminology, he added: “As for my stuff, follow NN site, which normly lead to the better Nde sites.”
“NN” is a term for non-nude sites, which are paid-for sites widely used by child sex offenders. The front page has legal pictures of clothed children. But as subscribers enter the site they can follow links to other sites with child porn.
The reference rang alarm bells for Mr Williams-Thomas, who has 20 years’ experience in child protection, and the Sunday Mirror contacted Scotland Yard’s Paedophile Unit.
Mr Williams-Thomas said: “This is a person who clearly has child abuse material and regularly views it. He is a danger to children.”
Mr Williams-Thomas befriended dozens of potential paedophiles using his fake profile. One uses a picture of a boy on a bed on his profile picture and another describes how he likes 12-year-old girls.
Another depraved individual asked: “Who wants to trade pthc pics and vids???”
Mr Williams-Thomas explained that “pthc” stands for pre-teen hard-core.
One pervert tweeted about being on a plane with 14-year-old children and made a sick joke about joining the mile-high club.
In the same Twitter conversation, a user said he wasn’t satisfied with naked pictures of children but wanted under-13s having sex. A flurry of tweets quickly followed from other paedophiles who said they had “pthc” photos.
Our findings are just a snapshot of the problem on the social network site. We have passed on all our information to the Met’s Paedophile Unit.
While praising the Sunday Mirror’s investigation, police urged Twitter users not to carry out their own online investigations or open links or images. Any suspicious profiles or messages should be reported immediately.
Del Harvey, director of trust and safety for Twitter, said: “This is a very important issue that we deal with as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
“When we receive a report and identify it as valid, we take action immediately. You can find our policy clearly outlined on our website.
“Not only is this a high priority for the company, but I personally understand the scope and severity of the issue, having spent the past 10 years working to combat this sort of content from being distributed.”
Former Digital Minister Tom Watson praised our investigation last night. The Labour MP, who has almost 90,000 Twitter followers, said: “This is a remarkable investigation by the Sunday Mirror. It goes to show that all social networks must remain vigilant and actively root out these circles of suspected child abusers.”
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