(San Francisco) Instagram, a subsidiary of Meta, is the main platform used by pedophile networks to promote and sell content showing sexual abuse of minors, according to a report by Stanford University and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ ).

“Large networks of accounts, which give the appearance of being operated by minors, openly promote the sale of” child pornography content, researchers at the Cyber ​​Policy Center at the prestigious University of Silicon Valley said on Wednesday.

“Instagram is currently the most important platform for these networks with features like content recommendation algorithms and messaging that helps sellers connect with buyers,” they added.

And neither the pedophiles nor these networks need to show much ingenuity.

According to the WSJ, a simple search with keywords such as

Often, these profiles “claim to be driven by the kids themselves and use overtly sexual handles with words like ‘little slut for you,'” the article details.

The accounts don’t directly say they’re selling these images, but they do feature menus with options, including asking for specific sex acts, in some cases.

Stanford researchers also spotted offers for videos with bestiality and self-harm. “At a certain price, children are available for in-person ‘meetings’,” the article continues.

The report highlights the role played by the popular social network’s algorithms: a test account created by the business daily was “inundated with content that sexualizes children” after clicking on a few such recommendations.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request from AFP.

According to the WSJ, the social media giant acknowledged there were issues within its security departments and said it had created a “task force” to address the issue.

Last March, pension and investment funds filed a lawsuit against Meta for “turning a blind eye” to human trafficking and child abuse on its platforms.

Instagram is also regularly accused by associations and authorities of not sufficiently protecting children against the risks of harassment, addiction and self-image problems.