Story at a glance

  • Apple threatened to remove Facebook from its App Store in 2019 after a BBC report was published.
  • In 2019, the BBC published a report which found that Facebook was being utilized by human traffickers in the Middle East, who were falsely advertising employment agencies that were a front for the trading and selling of people enslaved as workers.
  • A new report by The Wall Street Journal found Facebook had known of the problem prior to the BBC article.

Apple threatened to remove Facebook from its App Store in 2019 after a BBC report found human traffickers were using the social media site to arrange the sales of its victims, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal.

In 2019, the BBC published a report which found that Facebook was being utilized by human traffickers in the Middle East, who were falsely advertising employment agencies that were a front for the trading and selling of people enslaved as workers.

Following the BBC article, Apple reportedly threatened to remove Facebook from its App Store, the Journal reported.


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The Journal also uncovered an internal memo from 2019 that suggests Facebook was aware of the problem prior to the BBC report. One researcher for Facebook is said to have written, "was this issue known to Facebook before BBC inquiry and Apple escalation?," with a response stating, "Yes. Throughout 2018 and H1 2019 we conducted the global Understanding Exercise in order to fully understand how domestic servitude manifests on our platform across its entire life cycle: recruitment, facilitation, and exploitation."

Neither Apple nor Facebook have commented at this time.


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Published on Sep 17, 2021