There were tears of joy in a quiet street in Plymouth yesterday when seventeen children were freed from an internet forward sweatshop. Inside rescuers found banks of computers that the children had been forced to sit in front of for up to eighteen hours a day creating disease-based posts for people to endlessly forward to each other on Facebook.
This the latest of a series of raids that have taken place at addresses all over the country in recent weeks as part of Operation No Twee a massive police operation that has so far seen twenty arrested and over sixty children rescued.
‘The internet and Facebook in particular has in recent months been swamped with twee internet forwards claiming to raise awareness about certain medical issues and urging people to share the forwards with everyone on their friends list,’ said Detective Chief Inspector Dave Tsui spokesman for Operation No Twee. ‘People get guilt tripped in to clicking on share without ever thinking about where these things are coming from. We advise members of the public to be on the look out for phrases such as “ninety-nine out of a hundred people will ignore this, will you post it just for an hour and make a difference” and not to share posts of that nature for the sake of the children who have been denied their liberty to create them and to avoid having your friends think you’re being both smug and boring.’
The scene in the sweatshop exposes the human cost of internet forwards as screens show unfinished forwards each containing images of flickering candles or rainbows or clear skies and the words hope and awareness. Most tellingly of all at one end of the room lies a stack of filthy and well-thumbed medical dictionaries that children as young as six were made to search through for hours at a time in order to find more mental and physical diseases to create forwards about.
‘The internet certainly has it’s dark side,’ said DCI Tsui. ‘But it is one that can be brought to the law. Once we’ve rescued the children we will be swapping our operational focus to the elderly and tracking down the bastards who keep posting pictures of C90s and pencils, or insisting a Hula Hoop was more fun than a PlayStation 4.'