2021 Winner

Canadian Centre for Child Protection

Twitter Birthday Plea

No Fixed Address

SilverChallenger Strategy

Child sexual assault material (CSAM) is prolific and spreads inscidiously through popular online platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Despite the availability of technology to identify and remove CSAM, popular online platforms shirk any responsibility in removing it from their platforms. In fact, some of the most popular online platforms actively suppress efforts made by victims (typically still minors) who are desperate to remove footage of their abuse from the internet.

Of all the mainstream online platforms that allow for the ongoing spread of CSAM and active suppression of efforts to remove CSAM, Twitter is the most culpable. The challenge was to pressure Twitter to assume accountability for moderating and removing CSAM content on their platform by raising awareness amongst their users (the general public) of Twitter’s role in facilitating the spread of CSAM.

People think that CSAM lives in the murky corners of the dark web, but in reality, our favourite social media platforms are hot spots for CSAM activity. Research from the CP3 revealed the horrific scale of CSAM content that spreads through popular online platforms. The gap between the sheer scale of the problem and the lack of collective outcry to end the spread of CSAM (an issue society finds revolting) revealed their insight: people simply assume that horrific CSAM content is forced to exist on the dark web because it would never be tolerated on mainstream platforms. However, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

#TwitterBirthdayPlea would co-opt Twitter’s 15th birthday to share stories of survivors of childhood sexual abuse recalling their lives at 15 and the lasting trauma they’ve been forced to endure as footage of their abuse spreads freely on Twitter. On March 21st, Twitter was turning 15 years old. While it’s a fun age for most, for survivors of CSAM, fifteen years of Twitter represents enduring years and years of their content being spread, popping up over and over again on this public platform. With 15 years of no action and no accountability, it was the perfect time to give survivors a voice to share the ‘gifts’ that Twitter had given them year over year.

Four days in advance of Twitter’s 15th birthday, they released a powerful video capturing the collective voices and raw emotion of real survivors. The film begins by wishing the social media giant a happy 15th birthday. The tone then begins to shift as the survivors recount their own experiences at that age, the abuse they suffered and the lengths they’ve gone to try and get Twitter to remove their CSAM from the platform.

The video was released on the very platform where they wanted to bring change, using the reach and scale of Twitter against them. To ensure the content spread as quickly as the Twitter algorithm would allow, they seeded the video with influential advocates ranging from celebrities like Ricky Martin and Mayim Bialik to New York Times investigative reporter Nicholas Kristoff and survivor advocates like Eliza Bleu. More information was shared on the microsite BirthdayPlea.com including the video, data on the scope of the problem and a custom birthday cake map, illustrating the speed at which Twitter can spread content around the globe.

The call-to-action was simple, share this message and demand change from Twitter. The four day campaign generated over 330 million impressions worldwide with coverage from Canada to the US and Asia. On Twitter alone, over 30 million impressions were generated with thousands of people sharing the #TwitterBirthdayPlea message, spreading far and wide, all without any paid media support. Spreading around the globe, just as Twitter is famous for doing, messages of support came pouring in from the United States, Spain, Australia, Mexico, India, Germany and even Guyana.

Upon launch, the website saw hundreds of visits per day as people learned more about the problem and shared the video directly from the site. Within four days, over 1,000 people shared the video with their own social networks directly from the site.

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Greg Hahn, Co-Founder and CCO at Mischief @ No Fixed Address
Bianca Guimaraes, ECD at Mischief @ No Fixed Address
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Oliver McAteer, Director of Development at Mischief @ No Fixed Address
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Have questions? Need help?
Contact Rowan Traynor at 1-416-408-2300 x213 or rtraynor@brunico.com.