After a teenager was auctioned off on their platform, many are wondering why Facebook took so long to act. In response, the company has said nothing.
Officially, the slave trade is dead. It was brought to an end by the fierce bloodletting of the American Civil War. Emancipation was proclaimed, and everyone left the cinema grinning.
Well, obviously not. The trafficking of people remains, with Forbes proclaiming that it is the ‘pandemic of the 21st century‘. Those sold into service share the same experience of those from a century ago, in that their abuse remains anonymous. However, in the modern age, the shareability of our social media has thrown the veil back. Last year, VICE reported that a sixteen-year-old South Sudanese girl was sold off to the highest bidder…on Facebook.
Per VICE, “…a businessman from South Sudan outbid four others — which included a senior Sudanese government official — after the girl’s family posted a message on Facebook in October, calling for suitors to bid for her hand in marriage. The post, which has since been deleted by Facebook, was accompanied by a picture of a tall, expressionless girl standing alongside an unknown man. Facebook says it removed the post as soon as it became aware of it, but by then the girl had already been married off.”
The incident made headlines in the country, as the winning bidder is apparently a multimillionaire businessman, who offered 530 cows, $10,000 and three Land Cruisers for her hand in marriage. Local media outlets dubbed her the “most expensive bride in Africa.”
The incident made headlines in the country, as the winning bidder is apparently a multimillionaire businessman, who offered 530 cows, $10,000 and three Land Cruisers for her hand in marriage. Local media outlets dubbed her the ‘most expensive bride in Africa.’
Susan Birkwood of children’s rights organisation Plan International excoriated Facebook for allowing the post to remain live for two weeks prior to the auction and only discovering it three days after their wedding day. “We feel should have much better vigilance and reporting mechanisms going on, so they can act quickly and efficiently when there are girls rights violations of this nature on their platforms. It is not good enough to say they were not aware of it,” she said.
It’s worth noting that local and international news was made of the auction long before Facebook’s army of censors got around to banning the account of the party responsible on November 9, three days after the couple’s extravagant wedding photos were plastered all over the same platform.
Facebook has yet to mention what they’re planning to do to avoid a repeat.