BBC’s reporters looked into the dangers of a lack of security on social media. Upon said investigation, it was found that roughly one hundred photos of minors in exposed, sexualized positions were found on Facebook for the public to view.
Pedophiles are utilizing the social media site’s private Facebook groups to share photographs of exposed minors, showing how anything posted to the internet is spread with extreme quickness. After looking further into this and doing a couple stories on the privacy and censorship on Facebook, BBC reached out to Facebook about the inappropriate photos.
Along with the inappropriate photos, there was also a video capturing child abuse. People in the internet community have a right to post what they please, but laws must be upheld at the same time. After being brought to the attention of Facebook officials, only 18% of photos were removed.
In an outrage, BBC sent the images that were both highly inappropriate and illegal over email to Facebook, so they could take said images off their site to protect minors who were involved. Facebook in return reported BBC to the CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center, in the United Kingdom.
While both BBC and Facebook are in agreement that these photographs and videos are uncalled for and inappropriate- it is an issue of both privacy and moral standards and legality, it becomes difficult to monitor and control every single shared photograph and post sent between users. Running a website with over 1.23 billion daily active users (according to Facebook’s company info) would be a lot and managing that many profiles with personal information is a full-time around the clock job.
The issue of oversexualized youth stems further than pedophiles swapping photos. This branches into the way media portrays youth and markets more mature and risqué clothing and products to a younger audience. Is the media preying on youth to sell sex? Some advertisements from companies featuring marketing with underage models put youth in the public eye on display. Being in a market to relate to tweens and teens alike means these companies want young looking, free spirits to essentially be walking billboards for them.
Intention wise, BBC was trying to do the right thing by reporting the photos, so to the network it was an effort to stop the spread of child indecency. Baffled by Facebook’s actions, BBC’s editorial policy director, David Jordan commented, “…the fact that they sent those on to the police seemed to me to be extraordinary”.
Is normalizing the concept of minors in provocative positions a big part of the problem? This normalization is being instilled in the media through advertisements, music videos, and film. Audiences are looking to social media sites to uphold moral and legal standards due to the vast number of users.