Facebook scrutinized after not removing flagged child pornography and terrorist content

Facebook scrutinized after not removing flagged child pornography and terrorist content
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Facebook reportedly failed to take down child pornography and content supporting terrorist groups, according to the Times newspaper in the United Kingdom.

The social media company did not remove content supporting ISIS and pornographic images of children after it was reported to the site, the newspaper reported.

A reporter from the news site created a fake Facebook profile posing as a male in his 30's working in IT. With the account, the reporter friended over 100 supporters of ISIS on Facebook and joined groups where users posted pornographic images of children.


The Times flagged illicit content that it found in these groups and on Facebook users' profiles. Facebook removed some of the images that were reported, but many stayed on the site because moderators said that they did not violate Facebook’s “community standards.”

British officials who the Times contacted about content said that Facebook might have violated U.K. law.

“In my view, many of the images and videos identified by The Times are illegal,” one British official told the website. “One video appears to depict a sexual assault on a child. That would undoubtedly breach U.K. indecency laws. The video showing a beheading is very likely to be a publication that encourages terrorism.

“If someone reports an illegal image to Facebook and a senior moderator signs off on keeping it up, Facebook is at risk of committing a criminal offence because the company might be regarded as assisting or encouraging its publication and distribution.”

After the Times contacted Facebook, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company removed more of the content in question.

Facebook apologized for not initially removing the flagged images in a statement.

“We are grateful to The Times for bringing this content to our attention. We have removed all of these images, which violate our policies and have no place on Facebook,” said Justin Osofsky, VP Global Operations, Facebook.

“We are sorry that this occurred. It is clear that we can do better, and we'll continue to work hard to live up to the high standards people rightly expect of Facebook.”

A BBC report in March alleged that Facebook handled the news outlet reporting inappropriate videos and images in a similar manner.

BBC reporters additionally found multiple sex offenders on Facebook, a violation of the company’s rules.