(WARNING: This report contains brief details of offensive sexual language as it appeared on Facebook.)
Two weeks after WND first exposed shocking child-pornography trading circles on Facebook, the social network is still allowing explicit groups on its pages while simultaneously facing accusations that it censors seemingly harmless content such as photos of women’s corsets, breast-cancer survivors and even breastfeeding tutorials.
At the time of this report, Facebook “likes” such as “incest” and PTHC (preteen hardcore pornography) were still available in the website’s search engine.
One open group with 145 members, “Incest,” offered the following description of the crowd: “all mom dad sister bro aunt f–kers.”
A Facebook user by the name “Bizzy Bones” declared: “I masturbated with my cousin once. She was 15. I was 14.” Several visitors to the page liked the listing and one eagerly asked, “How was ur experience?”
Another page under the title “Incest” had 1,527 likes. A fourth had 12,311 likes. A fifth had 2,376 likes. Two more had 403 likes.
Meanwhile, WND recently reported 34 more links to the FBI depicting images and videos of child sex abuse in a period of only a few days.
As part of a two-month undercover news investigation, WND used alias Facebook profiles and located dozens of child-porn images after “friending” many likely pedophiles and predators who trade thousands of pornographic photos on the social network. Graphic images of children and sex abuse were immediately reported to the FBI. (You can read more about that investigation in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of the exclusive series.)
Even while news of WND’s investigation into Facebook child pornography exploded on the Drudge Report, USA Today, the London Telegraph, London’s Daily Mail, the Huffington Post, OneNewsNow and Michael Savage’s “Savage Nation,” investors prepared to grab their share of the social network in the most-anticipated tech stock debut in a decade. Shares of Facebook traded as high as $45 Friday, but the stock finished the day just slightly above the $38 price set for the initial public offering – due to billions of dollars of support from Morgan Stanley, the underwriting bank. However, on Monday, the stock tumbled well below its IPO price to close at $34.
WND readers weigh in on ‘Facebook censorship’
Since the four-part series was published, many readers have been writing to WND to share stories about how Facebook allegedly censored their own posts about every-day topics.
One corset designer said she posted photos of her fashion show on the social network. She explained that all of her models were older than 25 and fully covered.
“My photos and video were not even up for 72 hours and were pulled and my account shut down for ‘content deemed offensive,'” she told WND. “They can shut me down out of the blue, no warning.”
Another man said his wife, a lactation consultant, had posted tasteful photos of babies nursing to teach breastfeeding techniques to new mothers. According to him, Facebook removed those images “in a matter of hours.”
Stacey, a woman in California, said she had participated in an event to celebrate women who had survived battles with breast cancer. She posted a slideshow of women in pink T-shirts who had posed for photos alongside her during the event. She said Facebook removed the photos.
“Facebook e-mailed me to let me know the ‘content’ was questionable,” she said. “Really? Survivors in pink shirts are ‘questionable,’ but groups that support child porn are totally cool?!”
One man told WND:
“I run a crime blog that started on Facebook. We post crime stories and mug shots of individuals accused of crimes. (Of course, they are innocent until proven guilty.) On numerous occasions, Facebook has removed mug shots of individuals from our site. I always questioned how and why and have never been able to obtain an answer. Some of the pictures removed by Facebook include simple misdemeanor crimes; however, numerous felony offenders have been removed as well.
“So Facebook is willing to protect accused criminals but not protect children? Ridiculous!”
After the report was published, a reader said Facebook even appeared to censor WND articles:
“Just letting you know one of my subscribers put a link to your website on Facebook and Facebook listed your website as abusive and wouldn’t let me visit the page. Lucky for me I looked at the URL and went there after I closed Facebook. But I talked to some of the fellow conservative posters and they, too, are having problems with Facebook shutting them down, limiting or stopping posters from commenting on their page and other problems. Now it seems that they have co-conspirators censoring anyone that they don’t like.”
As PC Magazine recently reported Facebook deemed Robert Scoble’s post “irrelevant or inappropriate.” He said he received an error message that said, “To avoid having your comments blocked, please make sure they contribute to the post in a positive way.”
Heather Walker made headlines just this week when Facebook removed photographs of her newborn baby who only lived eight hours due to a condition called Anecephaly. She said the social network banned her from posting photos for 24 hours.
“They allow people to post almost nude pictures of themselves, profanity, and so many other things, but I’m not allowed to share a picture of God’s beautiful creation,” Walker, from Memphis, Tenn., told WMC-TV.
Other individuals claim Facebook has censored political and religious content.
Class-action lawsuit against Facebook
In fact, Facebook is accused of being so overly involved in the habits of its users that the social network is now being sued in a $15 billion class-action case involving privacy invasion – for purportedly tracking Facebook users’ Internet browsing habits after they have logged out of their social network accounts.
Tech Crunch posted the legal documents filed in U.S. federal court in San Jose, Calif. The lawsuit combines 21 separate cases filed in various U.S. courts in 2011 and 2012.
A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously.”
So with such extraordinary tracking capabilities, why can’t Facebook track and eradicate child pornographers and pedophiles on its site?
WND asked Facebook that question, but the social network is not talking – at least not publicly.
Facebook ‘not being honest,’ ‘stonewalling’?
Despite repeated requests over the course of almost two months, Facebook did not respond to phone calls and emails. However, after Part 1 of the series was published, the social network provided an emailed statement that WND posted here.
Nonetheless, the statement answered none of the following questions WND asked the social network:
- Will Facebook police explicit groups advocating child sex abuse, such as “Incest” (and variations of it), “Kidsex Young,” “PTHC” (and variations), “10-17 Boy sex,” etc.? Why are these even allowed on Facebook?
- Even with all the measures Facebook says it has taken, WND found explicit child porn on many profiles. It is was easy to find – even for a complete novice. If Facebook’s controls are working, why is a novice stumbling on numerous photos of young children – many under the ages of 10 or 12 – nude, being sexualized or even sexually penetrated by adults?
- Your PhotoDNA does not locate child-porn videos. There are many pornographic videos of children that are shared in these rings. What is Facebook doing about locating and removing these videos?
- Will you allow law-enforcement authorities to compare the number of child pornography reports to Facebook by its users to the number of Facebook’s child pornography reports to law enforcement to ensure your company is reporting every case to authorities?
- What’s to stop offenders who are blocked by Facebook from creating a new profile the next day and sharing their large albums of abuse once again? Why doesn’t Facebook verify user information before accounts are allowed to be opened?
- Facebook is said to be valued at about $100 billion and has 901 million users. It has resources to stop this problem. What is Facebook going to do to stop images and videos depicting child pornography from being uploaded on its site?
David Stowers of Antipedofilia.org wrote the following letter to WND about his organization’s experiences over the last two years as it attempted to fight child pornography on Facebook:
I read your report regarding the child pornography epidemic on Facebook. The Columbia based organization I belong to has tried to raise public awareness about this problem and worked with law enforcement back in 2010, two years ago, to try to get this solved. You’ll see that Facebook is NOT BEING HONEST … They have deliberately stalled law enforcement in the past, and now it’s out of control, the way they want it. Child sexual abuse is a $20 billion industry and, for Facebook, business is booming!
I thought it fair that you should know that we have been campaigning in vain for the last two years. The first priority of Facebook, its shareholders and board of directors is making money, not the welfare of innocent children … I hope this will add weight to your articles and the justice being sought for all the innocent children being sexually abused to satisfy the greed of Facebook investors. I can say this because they have NO EXCUSE! They knew all about this 2 years ago, and stonewalled law-enforcement agencies, including the Australian Federal Police, who are the head of the Virtual Global Taskforce against child sexual abuse and online exploitation.
Part 1 of the WND series, “Kids raped, sodomized on Facebook Pages,” alone has been visited by 1.4 million people.
Part 2 of the series, “Can Facebook’s child porn explosion be stopped?,” examined the response of Facebook and law-enforcement officials in the ongoing battle against child porn on Facebook.
Part 3, “Investing in Facebook? You don’t have clean hands,” examined how the issue of child pornography on Facebook could come into play as the social network goes public, what investors are supporting when they invest in Facebook and how, as one expert put it, “they won’t have clean hands” if they ignore this issue.
Part 4, “Facebook kid porn: Reaction hot and heavy,” examined the response of experts and advocacy groups in the ongoing battle against child porn on Facebook.
Concerned individuals may do the following:
If you have stumbled upon content appearing to be child pornography, report it immediately to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.