UN group says Facebook has been ignoring its pleas to deal with migrant torture videos

Earlier today, the Times of London came out with a shocking report about human traffickers using Facebook to broadcast videos of migrant torture and abuse as a way to elicit ransoms from migrants’ families. “Footage that has remained on the social media site for months shows Libyan gangmasters threatening the lives of migrants who have fled their homelands, often in the hope of reaching Europe,” writes the Times.

Horrible as this it, it’s not a new problem–in fact it’s something Facebook has been dealing with for quite a long time. A Reuters article from last June cites the same videos as well as the the same UN organization trying to shed light on the issue: The International Organization for Migration.

Despite being actively vocal about the subject, the IOM tells Fast Company that it never heard from Facebook about the issue. “We’ve not heard from them,” says spokesman Leonard Doyle, who adds that his organizations have spent months trying to get the company’s attention.

He adds that someone may have reached out today following this Times article, but nothing before that. “I guess they’re pretty busy,” says Doyle.

We reached out to Facebook for comment and will update if we hear back.

Update: A Facebook spokesperson provided Fast Company with this comment: “Offering services to take part in, support or promote people smuggling on Facebook is against our Community Standards. However, we also believe it is important that Facebook continues to be a place where people can raise awareness of important, and sometimes controversial issues.”

In regards to the video abuse video cited in the Times, the spokesperson said: “This specific video was posted to condemn smuggling and raise aware of the issue, so we would not consider it a violation of our policies. We realize the video is disturbing so we have added a warning screen and the video’s distribution will be limited to those aged 18 and over.”

Facebook adds that it has, in the past, been in touch with IOM and will be reaching out again about this issue.CGW