They Posted Porn on Twitter. German Authorities Called the Cops

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Paulita Paupel, who runs the European branch of the adult industry trade body the Free Speech Coalition, says the crackdowns are having worrying impacts on people and their ability to share content online. “People are fleeing the country,” Paupel says. “Most major content creators have already changed their residence to other European countries, mostly Austria, Switzerland, and Cyprus.” Others have changed their marketing strategies to avoid Twitter (impacting how much money they can make), and people new to the industry may from be discouraged starting a career, Paupel says. “This is mostly affecting LGBTQI+ and BIPOC creators.”

The internet is, of course, awash with porn—from Reddit, Snapchat, and Twitter to OnlyFans, PornHub, and xVideos—with millions of people around the world involved in the industry. Globally, it is big business, generating billions of dollars every year. While there are crackdowns on pornography all around the world, Germany appears to have a particularly strong brand of enforcement in the Western world, despite being one of the highest consumers of pornography.

“Germany has been the most aggressive about suppressing speech,” says Mike Stabile, a spokesperson for the US-based Free Speech Coalition. “I think that Germany has been the most aggressive in this in its pursuit, both in terms of the scope of its laws, and then also the enforcement.”

AI Surveillance

Since 2019, Germany’s media regulators have been developing and then using an AI system to detect online content that may run foul of the country’s laws. The artificial intelligence system, called KIVI, was developed by the North Rhine-Westphalia media authority, along with a Berlin-based private companyand is now being used by all the media authorities around Germany.

KIVI is touted as being able to scan public posts on seven social media and messaging apps—including Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Telegram, and VK (Russia’s version of Facebook)—as well as websites on the open internet. Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, which forbid nudity, are currently not being scanned. According to North Rhine-Westphalia’s description of the toolit can check 10,000 pages per day. Shortly after the authority started using KIVI, it said the authority’s detections “skyrocketed.”

The spokesperson for the North Rhine-Westphalia media authority says that since 2021 the authority has detected almost 5,000 “violations.” The system searches for problematic content by looking for predetermined German keywords and links, and the authority says of it uses im a age combination and text recognition to detect “positive” results.

Ella Jakubowska, a senior policy advisor at the civil rights nonprofit European Digital Rights (EDRi), says people’s human rights are put at risk when Big Tech companies or governments handle content moderation. not see online seems in itself very concerned,” Jakubowska says.

KIVI looks for multiple types of content, including political extremism and Holocaust denial, violence, and pornography. However, porn “violations” top the list, with 1,944 incidents being flagged in the past two years, according to figures shared by the North Rhine- Westphalia media authority. The spokesperson says the system flags potential violations of laws and then human investigators examine the results and decide whether any action should be taken. “KIVI protects employees from being suddenly and unexpectedly exposed to a stressful lass” con says.

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