As a Facebook user, I was appalled to recently learn of the extent of child pornography on Facebook. I was even more disturbed to learn that Facebook does not currently have a comprehensive or effective strategy to prevent or address crimes against children on the site.
Keeping children safe from sexual abuse should be of primary concern for Facebook as a responsible, ethical, publicly traded, and law-abiding company. Therefore, I ask Facebook to take the following steps:
- Devote sufficient financial, technological, and personnel resources technology necessary to prevent these images, videos, and profiles from being posted, at no less than 0.05% of annual profits;
- Establish a Facebook-initiated user reporting system for child abuse material within the existing abuse reporting system, with an option to directly contact law enforcement and a transparent strategy to investigate those reports;
- Develop and maintain an open channel of communication with INTERPOL, the FBI, and the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, including designated Facebook liaisons to all entities;
- Remove files of identified child pornography from Facebook servers, so that those those images are no longer accessible via direct linking or cached web browsers; and
- Designate a Facebook staff member whose sole duties are oversight of Facebook's child pornography reduction efforts, including technology and software acquisition, collaboration with law enforcement and NGOs, and prevention efforts.
As a Facebook user, I strongly encourage you to take these steps. By refusing to take action to address child pornography on Facebook, the company will be implicated in the facilitation of this heinous crime, and thus alienate millions of users.
Facebook is a household name for millions of people around the world who use it to make friends, share pictures, and discuss common interests. But increasingly, those people include pedophiles who are using Facebook to share images of child pornography and sell kids for sex.
Along with others, Men Against Prostitution and Trafficking (MENAPAT.org) began to uncover the extent of child pornography on Facebook beginning in 2010 – and it's massive. In the course of their research, MENAPAT discovered thousands of false profiles created each month featuring child pornography and code words used to connect with other pedophiles. In one day-long sweep alone, a MENAPAT member found over 1,400 images of child pornography, from toddlers up to 14-year-olds.
Child pornography on Facebook primarily manifests through closed groups created by pedophiles to share photos and videos of abused children and through profiles of abused children, created by their pimps or abusers. Often, specific sex acts can be "ordered" on Facebook, and can include extreme violence and heinous brutality.
Despite the severity and prevalence of child pornography on Facebook, the company has not implemented effective policies or procedures to prevent child pornography or cooperate with law enforcement to report illegal images. It's time Facebook took child pornography on their site seriously, and made it their responsibility to stop facilitating these crimes.