It seems like the WSJ’s entire San Francisco bureau has been preoccupied lately with churning out a series of stories sourced from “leaked” internal Facebook documents exposing embarrassing internal reports on everything from Instagram’s deleterious impact on the mental health of its twentysomething and teenage users to political divisiveness to – today’s entry – how Facebook’s products are abused to facilitated human trafficking and terror recruitment in parts of the emerging world.
The gist of the piece is this: Facebook has a small staff dedicated to combating human trafficking around the world, particularly in countries where the rule of law isn’t as robust as it is in the US and Europe. In the Middle East, Facebook is used to lure women into sex slavery (or some other form of exploitative labor).
In Ethiopia, armed groups use the site to recruit and to incite violence against other ethnic minorities.
Facebook’s monitors have also sent reports to their bosses on everything from human organ trafficking, pornography and child pornography, and government’s cracking down on political dissent.
The documents leaked to WSJ show that while Facebook removes some pages, many continue to operate openly.
While some might sympathize with Facebook’s inability to whack every mole (after all, they’re fighting a never-ending torrent of misconduct). But the sad truth is that Facebook could do more to stop its platform from being abused by traffickers, criminals and abusers – particularly in the emerging world (we all remember what happened in Myanmar).
The reason it doesn’t is because that would be bad for business”, according to a former chief executive who resigned from the company last year. Facebook treats harm in developing countries as “simply the cost of doing business” in those places, said Brian Boland, a former Facebook vice president who oversaw partnerships with internet providers in Africa and Asia before resigning at the end of last year.
Facebook has focused its safety efforts on wealthier markets (like the US) where powerful government and media institutions can help keep it accountable. But in smaller countries, Facebook answers many problems with a shrug.
The current movement in the United States to demand reparations for slavery is perhaps the most aggravating of all the unreasonable demands that have been made of the American people in the 21st century. Slavery was outlawed approximately one hundred and fifty years ago. There is no one to whom to pay legitimate reparations because no one in living memory has been affected by slavery. There is also the factor of race, which presumes that Blacks are all descended from innocent slaves, while Whites are all descended from evil slave-owners. This ignores a basic fact of American society: we are a land peopled by immigrants, many of whom came after the end of slavery and, therefore, don’t even have a historical connection to slavery in America.
Nevertheless, activists in California are making another attempt to extort money from citizens who have nothing to do with slavery. A state task force has been convened to study how to compensate descendants of enslaved people in California. Since people who never owned slaves don’t owe anything to people who never were slaves, it is difficult to see how any kind of reparations could be justified. They’re trying, though, and one of the possibilities being recommended is creating a school curriculum, based on the Charleston Syllabus, that will teach the history of slavery and its legacy in California.