Facebook Leaks Reveal Company's Faults: Content On Inciting Hatred, Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 26th October, 2021) The recent leaked internal documents from the social media giant Facebook - dubbed by the media the "Facebook papers" - have thrown light on a number of issues such as human trafficking and inciting religious hatred and are painting a grim picture of the company's activities.

Facebook was recently scrutinized earlier this month when a former product manager, Frances Haugen, told Congress that Facebook was allegedly being aware that it inflicted harm on the mental health of teenagers, but did not do much to prevent content promoting hate and division, but putting profit over users' safety instead. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the accusations, saying the company cares deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health.

Haugen's testimony came a day after Facebook suffered a six-hour outage that also disrupted its other services Instagram and WhatsApp. The US media cited Facebook's recovery team that the outage was caused by a border gateway protocol update.

The documents show that Facebook has been trying since 2018 to crack down on content related to human trafficking. The situation turned bad and in 2019 Apple threatened to pull the assessment of Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram from the App Store. However, Facebook employees managed to address the concerns and consequently the app remains in App Store.

However, an internal Facebook report said earlier in 2021 that "gaps still exist in our detection of on-platform entities engaged in domestic servitude."

US media like CNN claimed that the company located active Instagram accounts purporting to offer domestic workers for sale only last week. After reporting these accounts to Facebook, the company removed them.

"We prohibit human exploitation in no uncertain terms. We've been combatting human trafficking on our platform for many years and our goal remains to prevent anyone who seeks to exploit others from having a home on our platform," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said.


According to another internal report, Facebook's products have turned into a tool for inciting religious hatred in India. Inflammatory content on Facebook services in India have surged 300% above previous levels since December 2019 when religious protests swept that country.

Rumors and calls for violence spread engulfed in particular Facebook's WhatsApp messenger in late February 2020, the internal report found, when mass unrest in New Delhi left 53 dead.

Hindu and Muslim users in India are reported to face "a large amount of content that encourages conflict, hatred and violence on Facebook and WhatsApp," including material accusing Muslims of allegedly spreading the novel coronavirus, among others, US media reported

Media report claimed that many users believe Facebook could have done more to prevent content inciting religious content.

Another revelation about Facebook's manner of operation was that in 2019 Zuckerberg allegedly helped to reinstate footage that falsely claimed that abortion is "never medically necessary."

The video, featuring anti-abortion campaigner Lila Rose, was originally removed by a Facebook moderator that lead to a serious backlash from Republican senators, including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who voiced concern about freedom of speech and bias in treating opposing points of view.

Initially, Facebook attached a doctors' fact-check onto the footage and restricted the page's distribution.


The internal documents showed that Facebook faced its own problems while dealing with numerous messages on its platform related to the January 6 events at the US Capitol. Some employees saw the company policy reversing response to extremism in the country

"Haven't we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence? We've been fueling this fire for a long time and we shouldn't be surprised it's now out of control," one employee reportedly wrote on an internal message board.

The US Congress and regulators are still investigating Facebook's role in the January 6 riots.

On January 6, a group of supporters of former President Donald Trump entered the US Capitol in a bid to protest the lawmakers certifying the 2020 election results from several states that Trump said were fraudulent. The authorities shot one protester dead during the incident and charged 500 people for participating in the event.

Even before the latest revelations, Facebook appears to have been losing popularity among users for various reasons, including for censorship. According to the March report, the social media platform appears to be losing popularity particularly among teenagers and young adults.

One graphic revealed that "time spent" by US teenagers on Facebook was down 16% year-over-year, while young adults were spending 5% less time on it. In addition, the report revealed that the number of new teen signups was declining. The majority of people born before 2000 created their Facebook account when they were 19-20 years old. Now Facebook is not expecting people born after year 2000 to join the network until they are 24 or 25.

"What should we (particularly) optimize for among young adults? We don't know enough to know," one of the reports said referring to Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 29.