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Facebook in the hot seat for human trafficking links on its website


Victim of trafficking attracted to Facebook

(Trice Edney Wire / GIN) – False or misleading Facebook and Instagram posts accused of allowing human traffickers who recruit African women to be transported to Saudi Arabia and other countries with promises visas and jobs.

Instead, women are held captive, denied access to food and coerced into sex acts in massage parlors, according to internal surveys recently published in the Wall Street Journal.

Evidence of human trafficking has been uncovered by Facebook’s own team of human exploitation investigators, but until recently the social media platform lacked a protocol for dealing with the offers. employment for domestic servitude. As a result, dangerous advertisements were allowed to remain on the site.

In a 3-page blockbuster titled “Facebook staff report criminals, but society often fails to act,” on September 17, the WSJ cited “shocking behavior seen on FB posts … in blatant violation of the rules of Facebook “. Internal Facebook documents found by the newspaper showed alarms over how FB’s platforms were being used in some developing countries where its user base is huge and expanding.

The allegations in the story drew a strong rebuke from the social media giant who called them “deliberate distortions” that gave “false motives to FB management and employees.”

In the WSJ article, a young Kenyan freelance writer was featured who had applied for a job seen on Facebook that promised free plane tickets and visas – even though Facebook had banned job ads touting the fees. travel and visa free.

Titled “Cleaners Needed in Saudi Arabia,” the ad boasted a monthly salary of $ 300, prompting the young writer to meet the recruiter at Nairobi airport. The salary was now 10% lower than promised and once hired, only the employer could terminate the contract. If she wanted to leave, she would lose her visa and be in Saudi Arabia illegally.

She tried to opt out only to learn that her contract had already been sold to an employer and that she would have to reimburse the employer if she resigned.

Without the necessary money, she was flown to Riyadh, the Saudi capital. There, she worked in a house from 5 a.m. to dusk, cleaning, sleeping in a storage room and berated by her boss for calling her a dog.

After two months, she escaped to a deportation center where she met other Kenyan women, one with chain marks on her wrists and ankles.

Yet Facebook still had no systems in place to find and delete the traffic messages 18 months after the abuse was discovered. Finally, in 2019, they ran a scan and found over 300,000 cases of potential violations. Over 1,000 accounts have been deactivated.

But messages about human trafficking continued to appear and Facebook reportedly delayed a project to improve understanding of human trafficking.

A note uncovered by the report said, “We know that we do not want to accept the profit of human exploitation. How do we want to calculate these numbers and what do we want to do with this money? “

The Kenyan victim, meanwhile, said she had warned others about the risks of trafficking and would like to see FB work harder. “I think something should be done about it,” she said, “so that no one blindly walks in.”

GLOBAL INFORMATION NETWORK creates and distributes news and feature articles on current affairs in Africa to media, academics, students and activists in the United States and Canada. Our goal is to introduce important new voices on topics relevant to Americans, broaden the perspectives available to readers in North America, and bring to their perspective information on global issues that are being overlooked or overlooked. underestimated by mainstream media.


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