In a chilling revelation, New Mexico authorities have uncovered a series of communications among sex predators operating within the state, utilizing the seemingly innocuous term “PIZZA” as a code word to obscure their illicit activities.
The Gateway Pundit reported that the New Mexico Democrat Attorney General Raúl Torrez took decisive action against tech giant Meta Platforms, Inc., its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and associated entities, including Instagram, LLC, and Facebook Holdings, LLC.
The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, represents a bold effort to curb the exploitation of children on social media platforms.
“Our investigation into Meta’s social media platforms demonstrates that they are not safe spaces for children but rather prime locations for predators to trade child pornography and solicit minors for sex,” Attorney General Torrez said in a statement.
“As a career prosecutor who specialized in internet crimes against children, I am committed to using every available tool to put an end to these horrific practices and I will hold companies — and their executives — accountable whenever they put profits ahead of children’s safety,” he added.
During the past several months, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office launched an undercover operation posing as minors under 14 on Meta’s platforms. This sting operation led to disturbing findings, where it was discovered that:
- Proactively served and directed to underage users a stream of egregious, sexually explicit images — even when the child has expressed no interest in this content.
- Enabled dozens of adults to find, contact, and press children into providing sexually explicit pictures of themselves or participate in pornographic videos.
- Recommended that the children join unmoderated Facebook groups devoted to facilitating commercial sex.
- Allowed Facebook and Instagram users to find, share, and sell an enormous volume of child pornography.
- Allowed a fictitious mother to offer her 13-year-old daughter for sale to sex traffickers and to create a professional page to allow her daughter to share revenue from advertising.
The Attorney General’s office has released selectively redacted graphic content from their investigation, showing only those parts necessary to convey the seriousness of the situation while ensuring that the privacy and dignity of victims are fully respected.
Recent findings have exposed a network of Instagram accounts purportedly offering illicit means to acquire or exchange Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and Child Sexual Exploitation Content (CSEC).
Investigations reveal that these accounts provide instructions to move conversations to offline mediums such as WhatsApp or Telegram, platforms that offer end-to-end encryption and are beyond the reach of routine monitoring.
According to the complaint, “A search for ‘All New Kids Links Available’ on Instagram, for example, yielded dozens of options for CSAM. Notably, ‘cheese pizza,’ with its shared initials, is known to be a proxy for child pornography.”
“The profile picture in Figure 4 (redacted here) showed two young girls in an image that suggested they were engaged in sexual activity,” the complaint added.
More from the filed complaints:
“These Instagram posts regularly included “suggested for you” content, identified by its algorithm, that directed users to other CSAM sellers or minor accounts. One typical example showed a “links_here” seller offering “BOY, KIDS GIRLS ALL” associated with a “piz.zalinkseller” and other CSAM-selling accounts, which the user is invited to follow.”
“The Instagram seller below incorporates an image of a young girl serving a cheese pizza and advertises “small girls, small boys . . .3 years to 12 years girl’s . . .anal sex.””
“After two unsuccessful attempts at opening a Facebook account as a 13-year-old, a fictional user with the account name BobbiFun13 successfully opened an account on Instagram. She began looking for content on Instagram, and her search for ‘cute girls’ returned sexual images.”
“BobbiFun13 was able to follow accounts that signaled connections to child pornography, with ‘pizza’ seller or links, ‘little-girls,’ or ‘young_girl_sell’ in their names. She also was promptly followed by a similar set of sexually themed groups, including cpsell2, trusted_pizza_seller, all_new_kids_link, and i_can_make_women_orgsm.”
“Taya also conducted a search for ‘chicken soup,’ which is widely understood, because of its initials, to signify ‘child sex.'” She was pointed to this account, which invites the user to “Follow if you like little things”—a reference to sexual interest in children—with cheese pizza emojis for child pornography. The account invites contact “for trade” (or trade in child sexual images) and then shows pictures of young girls in bra tops.”
“Instagram uses easily-evaded restrictions on hashtags. Even if a specific term was blocked, Meta’s filters did not prevent a user from tagging their post or profile with the hashtag to signal the availability of CSAM. In addition, searches for child pornography that were blocked by Meta could be easily evaded by adding spaces, characters, or emojis to the search terms. For instance, while Instagram blocked searches for cheese pizza emojis (which yielded ‘no results at this time’), adding another emoji– for ‘pizza links’–did not restrict results. The phrase ‘pizza links’ is used by a web of accounts that were readily findable through searches and that offer CSAM.”
You can read the disturbing full 228-page complaint on the New Mexico Attorney General’s website.
AG Torrez expressed grave concerns about the knowledge and inaction of Meta executives like Mark Zuckerberg, emphasizing that they are fully aware of the potential dangers their platforms present to young users.
“Mr. Zuckerberg and other Meta executives are aware of the serious harm their products can pose to young users, and yet they have failed to make sufficient changes to their platforms that would prevent the sexual exploitation of children,” Torrez added.
Sex predators sometimes use the word “pizza” to communicate and hide their activities. This is a tactic to avoid detection by law enforcement and the public.
Last month, The Gateway Pundit reported that a Texas A&M University (TAMU) employee, Clinton Harnden, has been arrested by the FBI on charges related to child pornography.
The arrest came after agents executed a search warrant at Harnden’s residence and found evidence of his involvement in receiving and possessing child pornography materials, KBTX reported.
Harnden held the position of Senior Administrative Coordinator at Texas A&M University. His LinkedIn profile indicates that he had been employed at the university for more than a decade but only took on the senior administrative role in July 2020.
According to FBI Special Agent Dimitri Willis, “CHADWICK and HARNDEN used the term “pizza” to talk about CSAM during this interaction. I know from my training and experience that “pizza” and/or “cheese pizza” is a known slang/code-word used by individuals to discuss CSAM in public forums without detection. After sharing the CSAM, CHADWICK asked HARNDEN if he thought she was horrible because of all the “pizza.” HARNDEN replied that “Pizza is one of my favorite foods.””
The investigation further revealed Harnden’s involvement in online communities dedicated to sharing CSAM, including groups on Tumblr and Wickr.
“Agents reviewed HARNDEN’s “ATXAGGIE2007” Tumblr page. The page was filled with posts and responses about pornographic material, including CSAM. One post by HARNDEN on Tumblr asked “Anyone give out free pizza today.” As stated before, I know from my training and experience that “pizza” and/or “cheese pizza” is a known slang/code- word used by individuals to refer to CSAM,” the affidavit read.