In recent years, Facebook has taken measures to curb exploitation, but they have a long way to go as the world’s most popular social networking site. It has become a top place to trade pornography and child pornography, as well as a place of prostitution and sex trafficking.
Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world with more than 1.35 billion users logging in each month. Facebook has strong policies in place that prohibit a wide range of content that would promote sexual exploitation, yet they do not devote sufficient resources to effectively enforce their rules. As a result, Facebook has become a top place to exchange porn and child sexual abuse images and for prostitution, sex trafficking and predators.
A 2011 report revealed that 83% of prostituted women operate on Facebook. Other research shows that most prostitution actually qualifies as sex trafficking. In order to get women and children to perform, pimps & traffickers use fraud, deception, threat or use of force, coercion, and abuse of power or vulnerability. The fact that many are underage when they begin is an additional classification of sex trafficking. These trafficked and prostituted women and children are sold on Facebook daily. Pimps and traffickers also use Facebook to identify potential victims, to gain their trust and to further groom them in preparation for prostitution acts.
Pornography is rampant on the site as well. Hardcore pornography is frequently allowed to remain on the site after users report the material, despite Facebook’s clear guidelines on what is not permitted. Child and child-themed pornography is regularly uploaded and traded via Facebook as well. While Facebook has increased efforts and reports indicate that they are developing software to better find and remove these child sexual abuse images, they really aren’t doing enough as these developments have been promised for years and there is still a growing problem on the site.
Facebook claims to take an active role in keeping their site appropriate for all users. However, they often ignore their Community Standards, which specifically prohibit violence and graphic content (such as that shown in BDSM materials), nudity, pornography, sexual content involving a minor, and regulated goods (such as “adult products” or prostitution).
Facebook depends on reactive moderating, which relies on users to flag and report offensive or sexually explicit content. There are several problems with this system for policing content:
- Users must be further exposed to the inappropriate content if they want to report it;
- Facebook does not take these complaints seriously.
Often, these viewers are children who usually do not understand the consequences and impact such material can have on their development.
Additionally, allowing child porn and other forms of sexual exploitation on Facebook sends the message to predators and exploiters that such activities must be socially acceptable if they are suitable for such a popular website.
If the system worked, one complaint about a page or post would be enough to get it reviewed and removed if it abuses any of the community standards. Unfortunately, inappropriate content is reported to Facebook, often multiple times by multiple users, and that content remains on the website.
We recognize that Facebook is aware of these issues and are making improvements. They know the public is concerned and due to the efforts from Facebook users, the company has attempted to develop better techniques. However, they do not devote sufficient resources to effectively police their site. With your help, we hope to encourage Facebook to continue to improve.
Contact Facebook Directly
Ask Elected Officials to Amend Communications Decency Act
Report suspected child pornography and other exploitive content to the proper authorities. Please do not seek to police the site on your own, but if you stumble across such content, please consider these steps:
Protect Your Home
- Monitor your children’s use of the Internet and especially of social media platforms. Regularly have conversations with them about possible content they might encounter and about Internet safety.
- Use tools! Use built-in parental controls where possible; install filter and accountability software on connected devices; etc.
- Make sure your friends and family are aware of the dangers on Facebook and take action to protect against them. Encourage their involvement of these efforts to hold Facebook accountable for better enforcement of their policies.
- Visit our Parents Resource Center for more tips and updates!
Share your STORY
Personal stories help elected and business leaders to see the grave harm associated with this material and can be very helpful in getting them to change their policies. All will be shared anonymously. Please email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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