The UK Times has revealed that Facebook is at risk of a criminal prosecution in Britain for refusing to remove potentially illegal terrorist and child pornography content. The social media giant was informed of the content but it never addressed the issue.
Facebook failed to take down images and videos that were flagged and its moderators claimed that the posts did not breach the site’s community standards.
The images and videos included an Islamic State beheading, several violent pedophilia cartoons, a video of an apparent sexual assault on a child and propaganda posters glorifying recent terrorist attacks in London and Egypt. Much of the content was illegal under British law, as pointed out by a leading QC. As a result, Facebook is at risk of committing a criminal offense due to the fact that it had been made aware.
The leading social media network made $10 billion profit last year by selling advertising targeted at its almost two billion monthly users. Its technology encourages members to expand their friendship networks while offering them a “bespoke” experience based on their interests. The main concern is that the company allowed jihadists, criminals, and pedophiles to thrive on the site.
A statement made by Julian Knowles, QC, indicated that many of the images and videos are illegal. One of the videos appears to depict a sexual assault on a child. Such content breaches the UK indecency laws. There were also videos showing a beheading with the sole intent of endorsing terrorism.
Facebook is responsible for its employees and it ought to ensure that they keep up or remove reported posts that violate various laws. Failure to which Facebook is at risk of committing a criminal offense since it might be regarded as a criminal offense.
The moderators removed some of the images, however, they also kept online pro-jihadist posts including one praising Isis attacks. The company also failed to remove an official news bulletin posted by Isis praising the slaughter of 91 Christian warriors in the recent terrorist attacks against two churches in Egypt.
Facebook removed a video showing offensive cartoons after being contacted by The Times in U.K. The moderators also kept up a video showing the gruesome beheading of Isis hostages. A message released by Facebook that it did not contravene its rules against graphic violence despite it showing a British jihadist with his face covered, holding a knife, and standing over a head.
Dozens of pornographic cartoons that depicted child abuse are illegal under a 2009 law, yet Facebook did not remove them. One video shows a young child being violently abused.
Robert Buckland, the solicitor-general made a statement saying that social media companies might be breaking British law if they were irresponsible in allowing the terrorist material to remain online. The Terrorism Act 2006 indicates that it is an offense to disseminate terrorist material either intentionally or irresponsibly.