BBC Tells Facebook About Child Porn On The Network, Facebook Reports BBC To Police

Facebook has come under fire for not doing enough to police secret groups that trade child porn on the network. And in a disturbing twist, Facebook seems to be making the problem worse. When BBC journalists discovered child porn on the network and sent those images to Facebook last week, the company reported the BBC to police in the UK for the distribution of illegal images.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaking at a conference in Spain in February of 2016 (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The BBC has been investigating secret child porn rings on Facebook for years. And last week a representative from Facebook, Simon Milner, finally agreed to sit down for an interview about moderation tools on the network. There was just one condition: Facebook asked that the BBC reporters send the company images that they'd found on Facebook's secret groups that the BBC would like to discuss.

The BBC journalists sent Facebook the images they had flagged from private Facebook groups. And not only did Facebook cancel the interview, the company reported the journalists to the police.

"It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation. When the BBC sent us such images we followed our industry's standard practice and reported them to CEOP [Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre]," Facebook told Gizmodo in a statement. "We also reported the child exploitation images that had been shared on our own platform. This matter is now in the hands of the authorities."

Gizmodo spoke with Facebook's press team in the UK but they would not discuss the specifics of the case on the record beyond the prepared statement they released. Simon Milner, current policy director at Facebook, did not respond to Gizmodo's request for comment yesterday through Facebook. Milner used to work for the BBC, according to his public Facebook page.

Using Facebook's own moderation tools, the BBC's recent investigation attempted to report 100 images that appeared to violate Facebook's terms of service for sexualised images of children. The BBC found that just 18 of the 100 were eventually taken down on Facebook.

Furthermore, Facebook's rules forbid convicted paedophiles in the UK from having accounts. After positively identifying five paedophiles on the site and notifying Facebook, the BBC reports that no action was taken.

"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," BBC's director of editorial policy, David Jordan, told his own news outlet.

Gizmodo asked the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) about the case of Facebook reporting BBC journalists for doing their jobs and was sent boilerplate language about how important it is for anyone who may accidentally stumble upon child porn on social media platforms to report that to the police.

"It is vital that social media platforms have robust procedures in place to guard against indecent content, and that they report and remove any indecent content if identified. Social media platforms should also provide easy to use and accessible reporting mechanisms for their users," the NCA told Gizmodo in a statement.

But the agency wouldn't comment on this specific case and whether or not the BBC journalists are now being investigated for the distribution of child pornography.

"The NCA does not routinely confirm or deny the existence of specific investigations, nor receipt of specific reports," the NCA said.

"We have carefully reviewed the content referred to us and have now removed all items that were illegal or against our standards," Facebook told Gizmodo in a statement. "This content is no longer on our platform. We take this matter extremely seriously and we continue to improve our reporting and take-down measures."

"Facebook has been recognised as one of the best platforms on the internet for child safety," Facebook's statement continues.

It could not be determined by press time whether Facebook is indeed "one of the best platforms on the internet for child safety". What could be confirmed, however, was that Facebook reported journalists to the police who were making a good faith effort to expose illegal images on their own platform.

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Comments

    Ha ha, what else can you expect from the company of a man who believes that people that who post personal information to his company's website are fools?

    What a pack of conniving bar stools.

    So much for FB's ethics (or total lack thereof).

      They have no ethics, you report a page that encourages the rape of women calls them horrific names and they do nothing, it is within their guidelines, rape is acceptable to Facebook.
      You report a fake profile that clearly is for trolling, the name, photos posts etc and they say there is no problem.

        Just don't identity as a conservative.

    "Facebook has been recognised as one of the best platforms on the internet for child safety,"

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha GAAAAAASP

    As a Teacher who has attended conferences and conventions regarding the effects your platform has had on children and the ways it's helped bullying and the child porn industry, go bugger yourselves Facebook, you lying, dishonest, unethical pieces of crud.

    Last edited 08/03/17 10:34 am

    I'm sure facebook doesnt condone child pornography. It might be the case that the police and facebook already know about these groups and an investgation is already underway. Hense they referred them straight to the police. Obviously just closing the groups is not enough, they would probably like to identify all individuals and build a case against them. BBC was pretty stupid to distribute these images.

      I'm sure Facebook like all corporations will do what ever is in its best interests.

    "Using Facebook's own moderation tools, the BBC's recent investigation attempted to report 100 images that appeared to violate Facebook's terms of service for sexualised images of children. The BBC found that just 18 of the 100 were eventually taken down on Facebook."

    Since Facebook actively allowed them after they were reported, does that mean that any form of safe-harbour protections are gone?

    Jesus H Christ. They sent child porn images. WTF did they think would have happened? They should have sent links to the images, NOT the images themselves.

    Ah! Shoot the messenger! 'Twas ever thus.

    You don't honestly believe a guy that's worth $billions from creating a site where people exchange personal information, a site that any kindergarten programmer could have created really gives a shit, and you know what its those people who use FB that made him that fricking rich

    Facebook is just scared of loosing the advertising revenue from child porn sites.

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