As if things weren’t bad enough for Facebook, now it’s being accused of profiting from the illegal sales of animal parts and animal trafficking.
The law firm of Kohn, Kohn, and Colapinto—aka the whistleblower law firm—filed a complaint this week on behalf of an anonymous “whistleblower” who claims that Facebook is running ads on web pages run by “overseas wildlife traffickers illegally selling the body parts of threatened animals.”
Facebook is allegedly selling ads on sites that sell things like rhino horn, bear claws, tiger skins, reptiles, and ivory and allowing the social network to be used as a marketplace for these goods.
The complaint comes in the wake of changes made by Facebook-owned Instagram to curtail wildlife trafficking on its site. Both Facebook and Instagram joined the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online in early March. Yet when the law firm sent out investigators, it was able to find more than a dozen distinct networks operating on Facebook, traveling to Vietnam and Laos to meet with a number of ivory traders in person to confirm it.
“We urge authorities to enforce the law and make Facebook regulate its platform better,” the firm wrote in a statement. “People are not the only victims of Facebook’s negligence. Endangered animals are, too.”
A Facebook spokesperson offered a comment, reiterating the fact that wildlife trafficking violates the site’s community standards (and, for what it’s worth, the world’s community standards):
“Our Community Standards do not allow for poaching, the sale of wildlife, endangered species or their parts, and we immediately remove this material as soon as we are aware. We have many systems in place to prevent the sale of illegal goods, and do not allow ads around the sale of endangered animals. We are saddened to hear these reports and are investigating this issue.”