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Facebook documents

Documents show how Facebook has struggled to crack down on human trafficking

New documents reportedly show how Facebook has struggled to remove human trafficking content, nearly getting pulled from the App Store as a result. 

An internal Facebook report this year found that "gaps still exist in our detection of on-platform entities engaged in domestic servitude," which it defined as a "form of trafficking of people for the purpose of working inside private homes through the use of force, fraud, coercion or deception," CNN reported on Monday. Facebook has reportedly known about this issue of human traffickers on its platforms at least since 2018. 

After a BBC investigation into this in 2019, Facebook reportedly removed hundreds of profiles that were promoting "domestic servitude," but CNN reports the platform is still struggling to remove this content. In fact, according to CNN, this became such an issue that Apple threatened to pull Facebook and Instagram from the App Store over it in 2019. According to internal documents, Facebook "formed part of a large working group operating around the clock to develop and implement our response strategy" to prevent this but acknowledges the human trafficking issue was known before the Apple threat. Facebook also acknowledged that "domestic servitude content remained on the platform," The Associated Press reports. A January 2020 report distributed within the company reportedly said that "our platform enables all three stages of the human exploitation lifecycle (recruitment, facilitation, exploitation)." 

The revelations come from Facebook documents leaked by former employee Frances Haugen, whose representatives reportedly said in an SEC complaint "investors would have been very interested to learn the truth about Facebook almost losing access to the Apple App Store because of its failure to stop human trafficking on its product." Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told CNN that "we prohibit human exploitation in no uncertain terms" and that "our goal remains to prevent anyone who seeks to exploit others from having a home on our platform." Read more at CNN