Apple Threatened To Remove Facebook From App Store In 2019 For Human Trafficking, Claims Report

Apple threatened to remove Facebook from the App Store in 2019 because traffickers in the Middle East are using the site and Instagram as “sex slave markets.”

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2019 Apple threatened to remove Facebook from the App Store over human trafficking concerns
  • Facebook documents obtained by the magazine show its employees were looking for people smugglers in the Middle East who were using the apps
  • The perpetrators posted images of women, skills and personal descriptions
  • They advertised them as domestic workers, but in reality sold them as slaves or sex workers to the highest bidder


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Apple threatened to remove Facebook’s apps from the App Store in 2019, after a BBC report showing that traffickers are setting up ‘slave markets’ to sell women to the highest bidder, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ obtained internal documents from the social media company detailing how its own employees searched for people smugglers in the Middle East.

Facebook researchers found that these groups placed ads for domestic workers to cover up the sale of women as slaves or sex workers.

The WSJ found that Facebook is removing some of these pages, but it has yet to devise a system that prevents violators from reposting under a new account.

Apple threatened to remove Facebook's apps from the App Store in 2019, following a BBC report showing that traffickers are setting up 'slave markets' to sell women to the highest bidder.

Apple threatened to remove Facebook’s apps from the App Store in 2019, following a BBC report showing that traffickers are setting up ‘slave markets’ to sell women to the highest bidder.

On the other hand, fixing this system won’t put any money in Facebook’s pocket and the company would rather spend its time retaining users, helping business partners and “appeasing sometimes authoritarian governments,” according to WSJ.

Brian Boland, a former vice president of Facebook who oversaw partnerships with Internet service providers in Africa and Asia before resigning late last year, told the paper that the social media company views abuse in developing countries as “just the cost of doing business.” ‘

It is not yet clear why Apple has not followed through with its threat in 2019.

DailyMail.com has reached out to Facebook and Apple for comment and has not yet received a response.

Brian Boland, a former vice president of Facebook who oversaw partnerships with Internet service providers in Africa and Asia before resigning late last year, told the paper the social media company views abuse in developing countries as “just the cost of doing business.”

The WSJ notes that Facebook’s research team spent more than a year documenting a thriving slave trade in the Middle East, all of which took place on its own apps — specifically the main Facebook app and Instagram.

They found that perpetrators shared photos, skill descriptions and personal details of their victims, along with a specific hashtag that buyers know they are looking at sex workers.

Facebook was found to have removed some of the pages, but this only happened after Apple threatened to remove them from the App Store, the WSJ report said.

And the threat was in response to a BBC story about maids for sale.

The WSJ notes that Facebook's research team spent more than a year documenting a thriving slave trade in the Middle East, all of which took place on its own apps — specifically the main Facebook app and Instagram.

The WSJ notes that Facebook's research team spent more than a year documenting a thriving slave trade in the Middle East, all of which took place on its own apps — specifically the main Facebook app and Instagram.

The WSJ notes that Facebook’s research team spent more than a year documenting a thriving slave trade in the Middle East, all of which took place on its own apps — specifically the main Facebook app and Instagram.

An internal memo revealed that Facebook was aware of the practice before then: A Facebook researcher wrote in a 2019 report, “Was this issue known to Facebook before the BBC investigation and Apple’s escalation?”, according to the Journal.

And the answer includes: ‘Yes. During 2018 and H1 2019, we conducted the global Understanding Exercise to fully understand how domestic servitude manifests itself in our platform throughout its lifecycle: recruitment, facilitation and exploitation.”

The internal documents also note that due to the language barrier, Facebook is limited in how it works in some countries.

The social media company has few to no people speaking specific dialects needed to identify such criminal acts, according to the documents.

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