Facebook reports BBC journalists to police for flagging posts containing child porn

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Facebook Inc. has found itself the object of criticism after failing to remove images of sexualized children on its platform found by BBC investigative journalists.

According to reports, Facebook had taken down only 18 photos out of 100 that the BBC’s team had flagged using Facebook’s tools. Facebook now has to answer to a group of MPs, while the company has lost more face for not only refusing to remove the images but actually reporting the BBC journalists to police, according to the BBC.

Facebook had previously canceled an interview with the BBC to discuss the images, and later issued a statement in its defense for reporting the BBC: “It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation.”

Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons media committee, has said he has “grave doubts” regarding Facebook’s ability to remove such posts, many of which the BBC found were sent to secret groups aimed at pedophiles.

A previous investigation by the BBC found that, ”Pedophiles are using secret groups on Facebook to post and swap obscene images of children.” Consequently, this led to groups being taken down and even the arrest and sentencing of a man to prison for four years.

Facebook denied wrongdoing, saying the posts it did not take down did not breach its community standards, although one example given by the BBC seems to indicate the sharing of child pornography. The BBC also reports that it found a number of convicted pedophiles using the network, something Facebook’s policies do not allow.

After showing the results of its investigation to Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, her response was stern: “I have been very disturbed by what I have seen, very disappointed that one year on we are still seeing images that are very sexualized, totally in my view unacceptable.”

In a statement the BBC’s director of editorial policy, David Jordan, said, “The fact that Facebook sent images that had been sent to them, that appear on their site, for their response about how Facebook deals with inappropriate images … the fact that they sent those on to the police seemed to me to be extraordinary.”

Facebook has since removed the content, and has issued a statement saying it is one of the “best platforms on the internet for child safety.” It’s not known if the BBC journalists are being investigated by police.

Image: Stallkerl via Flickr