Twitter BANS Searches for ‘Lolicon’ as Crackdown on Child Pornography Continues

Twitter has banned “lolicon,” a term referring to drawn images of sexualised young girls, from being searched on its platform, as Elon Musk continues his crackdown on child sex abuse material.

Lolicon, and its shortened form of “loli,” was banned from the Twitter search function late on Saturday evening, according to a tweet from the “Lolicon Defense Task Force,” a Twitter account that fights the “censorship of offensive, sexual and violent content in anime.”

The term, deriving from Japanese pop culture, refers to drawn content of young girls in romanticised or sexualised contexts, blending “childlike characteristics with erotic undertones.” Shotacon, shortened to shota, refers to the same content but depicting young boys.

According to the 2003 PROTECT Act, it is illegal to create, possess, or distribute, “a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture or painting, “that “depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is ‘obscene’ or ‘depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in… sexual intercourse… and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Many Twitter users were happy to see the search ban, with some joking that “pedophiles have taken an L [loss],” and others noting that it is a “huge breath of fresh air” to see even “animated child exploitation” being taken seriously by the platform.

Ironically, the realisation that both “loli” and “lolicon” had become banned search terms caused the former to trend on the platform, despite users then receiving no information if they clicked on it in the trends bar.

The removal of the search terms from access via Twitter follows a discussion on the platform on Saturday featuring Musk, current head of Trust and Safety Ella Irwin, and anti-child abuse campaigner Eliza Bleu.

Bleu, who also campaigns against human trafficking, argued before Musk had joined that as Irwin and other Twitter staff had been “begging for the resources and funding to remove child sexual abuse material, the platform prioritized the removal of words, non-illegal words, thoughts and ideas, and the censorship of innocent citizens.”

“Twitter was censoring innocent citizen’s speech, words, thoughts, ideas while refusing to remove the human rights violation of child sexual abuse, material exploitation at scale,” Bleu said, after Musk had joined the conversation. “Yeah. I mean, that’s unbelievable,” Musk said in reply. “Frankly, it’s terrible.”

Twitter under Musk has continued to crack down on child sex abuse material. Andrea Stroppa of Ghost Data, who had discovered before Musk’s purchase that Twitter was placing adverts next to accounts looking for child pornography, said earlier this month that Twitter had almoust doubled the rate of suspension for accounts who posted such material.

“Twitter updated its mechanism to detect content related to child sexual abuse/exploitation material. Faster, more efficient, and more aggressive,” Stroppa tweeted. “No mercy for those who are involved in these illegal activities.”

However, the accompanied terms of “shota,” and “shotacon” remain searchable on the platform, as does “lolis” and “lolicons,” which Valiant News noted in a request for comment to Twitter. There was no reply by the time of writing.

This news and commentary by Jack Hadfield originally appeared on Valiant News.


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