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Twitter told to protect young users

Twitter should do more to protect young users of the website from online predators, a child protection unit has said.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre said "more can be done" by the micro-blogging website to safeguard its members, many of whom are children.

Popular social networking sites, such as Bebo and Facebook, report far more incidents of illegal activity to Ceop than Twitter.

Peter Davies, head of Ceop, said: "Providers of online services have a responsibility to safeguard their environment in order to minimise the risk to children and close down opportunities for offenders. Many companies work closely with us to enhance their ability to do this, including Facebook and Bebo.

"The centre does receive reports relating to material on Twitter but it's important to say these amount to a very small proportion of 1,000 reports a month relating to a wide range of online environments."

Ceop called on Twitter to strengthen its reporting mechanisms to tackle problems of sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

Mr Davies added: "Twitter have removed illegal images and other content on our request. We believe more can be done around the moderation of Twitter feeds and the strengthening of Twitter's reporting mechanisms."

However, another child protection organisation said the responsibility to safeguard young people from online threats lies with governments and police forces.

Christian Sjoberg, chief executive of NetClean, aims to prevent the spread of child sexual abuse content. He said: "It's important to remember that although paedophiles are increasingly exploiting social networks to share and view illegal child sexual abuse content, this behaviour is not the fault of companies such as Twitter, who are doing everything they can to prevent this activity taking place on their networks."

Del Harvey, the director of trust and safety at 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."

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