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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

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Facebook Criticized For Failing to Remove Sexualized Images of Children

Oyetoke Tobi - Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Facebook is under fire again for the failure to get rid of some explicit and sexualized images of children.

Convicted pedophiles often use the social network to share such explicit and sexualized images, and reporting them doesn't essentially lead to their elimination, according to the BBC.

As part of an investigation BBC carried out and published on Tuesday, 100 such images were found and reported to the social network. However, only 18 of such images were taken down at that moment, the BBC reported.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has been called out for the failure to battle the posting of sexualized or illegal images of children. An investigation which was conducted last year by the BBC also discovered closed groups used by pedophiles to post explicit and obscene images of children, which results in one man's conviction and four-year prison sentence.

As the world's largest social network, with about 1.86 billion people visiting it at least once a month, Facebook must continually monitor the content that gets shared on its site, which includes violence live-streamed through its Facebook Live feature. 

Facebook has reporting mechanisms, but the investigation carried out by BBC shows that they aren't essentially enough yet.

According to the BBC, its investigation also discovered:

Groups created by pedophiles as mentioned earlier.
Closed groups with names which includes "hot xxxx schoolgirls" having images of real children.
Explicit images of children below 16yrs of age with obscene comments.
An explicit image that looks like a still frame taken from a child abuse video.
Five accounts owned by convicted pedophiles which had clearly been by banned Facebook.

The BBC at first used Facebook's reporting feature to flag what it had found to be explicit, before getting in touch with the company directly when most of the flagged content wasn't removed.

But, all of the content has now been taken down.
"We have with awareness reviewed the content referred to us and have now removed all items that were illegal or against our laws and principles," says a Facebook spokeswoman in a statement to CNET. "This content is no longer on our platform," she added.
Damian Collins, a British Parliament member who heads the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport, told the BBC Radio 4's Today show that he's worried about Facebook's manual reviews of reported content.


"What is disturbing is that when these images were brought to Facebook's awareness, they didn’t take necessary action to remove all of these images, nor have they provided any explanation as to why there are still some reported content not taken down," he stated.


The UK-based National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children also stated their concerns.


"Facebook's failure to remove sexualized/explicit content from its website is terrible and violates the agreements they have in position to protect children," said by a spokeswoman for the group in a statement to CNET. "It also raises the question of what content they regard as to be inappropriate and dangerous to children."



Facebook replied by telling CNET that, it takes the matter "very seriously" and is continuing to enhance its reporting and take-down procedures. The company spokeswoman also said that "Facebook have been recognized as one of the best platforms on the internet for child safety."


The BBC’s report did not only highlight the problems but also report it with the Facebook’s reporting process.

The BBC journalist got in touch with Facebook to inform the company that it was leaving explicit and obscene content on its platform, and then the social network asked the journalist to send over the images. After that, Facebook then reported the BBC to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency (CEOP), which is part of the UK's National Crime Agency.

Collins said this was an "extraordinary" decision. "I think that's an astonishing response," he added on BBC Radio 4's Today show. It’s like he wasn’t expecting the decision made by Facebook.

The Facebook spokeswoman also defended her company's decision by saying "It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation.” "When the BBC sent us such images we followed our industry's standard practice and reported them to CEOP," she added.

She also said that Facebook "have also reported the child exploitation images that had been shared on its own platform. This matter is now in the hands of the authorities."



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