Social Media giant Facebook found itself in the middle of controversy this week as reports emerged that not only had they failed to remove sexualised images of children from the social media site; but in fact had reported the journalists who brought it to their notice to the police.
The BBC found upon investigation that in spite of having reported “dozens of photos” to Facebook including “images from groups where users were discussing swapping what appeared to be child abuse material,” more than 80% of them were not removed.
When the journalists in question took up the issue with the company and provided them with examples, Facebook, in a bizarre move, reported the journalists and the BBC to the police; and also apparently cancelled a previously scheduled interview.
In a statement, Facebook said, “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 [Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre]”
This comes a year after the BBC’s investigation into how paedophiles had been using secret Facebook groups to swap images. This investigation had even led to the arrest and imprisonment of one man for downloading indecent images.
Of the 100 images reported, Facebook reportedly only took down 18, since the others did not breach their community standards.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England said she was “very disappointed” by the revelations that a year after the original investigation the images continued to remain online.
“Facebook’s failure to remove illegal content from its website is appalling and violates the agreements they have in place to protect children,” said a spokesperson for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in Britain.
In their response, Facebook said, “We have carefully reviewed the content referred to us and have now removed all items that were illegal or against our standards,”