Pope tasks Internet companies on pornography

Pope Francis has told executives of leading Internet companies   to use ‘their great profits’ to defend children from sexual exploitation and other dangers lurking online.
The pontiff, speaking at a conference in Rome, said the Catholic Church needed to accept responsibility ‘before God, victims and public opinion’ for its own sex abuse scandals, but wanted to share the lessons it had learned.
Speaking to participants including representatives from Facebook and Microsoft, he said social media businesses had to do more than set up filters and algorithms to block harmful content.
The 80-year-old pope spoke out against the spread of extreme pornography, the dangers of so-called ‘sexting’ between young people and between adults and children, and cyber bullying, calling it ‘a true form of moral and physical attack’.
He said ‘heinous, illicit activities’ such as the commissioning and live viewing of rape and violence against minors via the so-called Dark Web had to be stopped.
The Church-organised conference – called Child Dignity in the Digital World – was held two months after a monsignor was recalled from the Vatican’s Washington embassy in August after the US State Department said he may have violated child pornography laws.
Church officials have been caught up in a series of scandals around the world – two years ago, the Vatican put its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, an archbishop, on trial for child sex offences. He died before a verdict was reached.
The conference, held at a pontifical university in Rome, brought together experts from digital companies, law enforcement, medicine and academia to discuss online bullying, pornography and the preying on children by paedophiles.
The pope said social media businesses had to invest ‘a fair portion of their great profits’ to protect ‘impressionable minds’.
He said it would be a mistake to think that ‘automatic technical solutions, filters devised by ever more refined algorithms in order to identify and block the spread of abusive and harmful images, are sufficient to deal with these problems’.

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