The US owned social media giant Facebook has come under heavy criticism after several thousand users were sent a survey asking about how the company should regulate interactions between children and adults. In one of the examples the company asks who should decide the rules regarding a hypothetical scenario where an adult man messages a 14-year-old girl asking for sexual pictures.
The multiple-choice questionnaire allows users to select one of the following responses:
Facebook decides the rules on its own
Facebook decides the rules with advice from external experts
External experts decide the rules and tell Facebook
Facebook users decide the rules by voting
Facebook has been criticised over a “stupid and irresponsible” survey in which it asked whether child grooming should be allowed on its site https://t.co/qXpBNm95sj— The Times of London (@thetimes) 5 March 2018
People have condemned the survey saying it comes eerily close to condoning grooming, and that it sends the wrong message to Facebook users. Labour’s Yvette Cooper also spoke out to condemn the questionnaire, saying,
“This is a stupid and irresponsible survey.
“Adult men asking 14-year-olds to send sexual images is not only against the law, it is completely wrong and an appalling abuse and exploitation of children.
“I cannot imagine that Facebook executives ever want it on their platform but they also should not send out surveys that suggest they might tolerate it or suggest to Facebook users that this might ever be acceptable.”
Jim Gamble, head of Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, told reporters that while he thought the survey was well-meaning in its intentions, it was still poorly worded and poorly thought out.
“It is like having a survey which asks, ‘Do you think it is OK to radicalise a person online?’” he said.
Are Facebook condoning or even promoting paedophilia?— Miss Jo (@HaramHussy) 5 March 2018
At the weekend they pushed out a survey that asked whether an adult man asking for a 14 year old girl to send sexual pictures should be allowed and whether users would want to see it.
In what world is this right?#Facebook pic.twitter.com/s7pGcG2ZkG
Meanwhile a Conservative MP spoke out against the survey in harsher tones, saying,
“This is grooming, plain and simple, and the only solution is to ring the police and apprehend the culprit.
“Why on earth is Facebook appearing to look into ways to get around the law when any of the options… can only result in under-age children being vulnerable to predators?”
Meanwhile companies like Facebook and Google have been under increasing pressure from legislators and politicians to address the role they play in radicalisation, extremism, and child exploitation. The companies often respond by pointing out that it might not be in everyone’s best interests for private companies to regulate what is and isn’t acceptable, and that it is the government’s job to enforce the law.