According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple threatened to remove Facebook’s products from the App Store after a 2019 BBC report detailing how human traffickers are using Facebook to sell victims.
The WSJ reviewed internal documents showing that a Facebook investigative team was tracking a human trafficking market in the Middle East whose organizers were using Facebook’s services. According to the WSJ, employment agencies advertised domestic workers that they could supply against their will.
Per the WSJ report, in an internal summary about the episode, a Facebook researcher wrote: “Was this issue known to Facebook before BBC enquiry and Apple escalation?”
Underneath the question reads, “Yes. Throughout 2018 and H1 2019 we conducted the global Understanding Exercise in order to fully understand how domestic servitude manifests on our platform across its entire life cycle: recruitment, facilitation, and exploitation.”
The WSJ also reported on how Facebook’s AI content moderators failed to detect most languages used on the platform. As the human moderators did not know how to speak the languages used in these markets, it left a blind spot in the company’s efforts to block harmful content.
Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg said on Saturday that the issues of content moderation, vaccine misinformation and well-being of teens are complex issues. He said the series of articles published by the Wall Street Journal was based on incomplete information on difficult topics.
He said the articles contained “deliberate mischaracterizations” and do not tell the whole picture and said the allegations “conferred egregiously false motives to Facebook’s leadership and employees.”