• PH role in FB revenge porn, ‘sextortion’ possible – expert

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    Facebook’s leaked documents revealing cases of revenge porn and “sextortion” could have also infested the Philippines as it has 40 million active users, an Information Technology (IT) specialist said on Thursday.

    Revenge porn diplays “sexually explicit photos/videos” of the victims on the Internet without her/his permission, and sextortion uses sexual images to blackmail the victim in exchange for sex or money.

    “The possibility that some accounts from the Philippines were involved with these acts is high, since Filipinos are very active in social media, and that our country is sadly known in the porn industry,” IT specialist Darrel Jed Costales said in an interview with The Manila Times.

    In 2016 alone, the Philippine National Police-Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) conducted 40 police operations, arresting 150 people involved in extortion, cybersex operations and violations of anti-photo and video voyeurism law.

    Facebook documents leaked to the London-based The Guardian exposed that the site had to assess 54, 000 potential cases of revenge porn and sextortion–and 33, 000 of those involved child abuses. This led the social networking site to dismiss 14, 000 accounts worldwide in January, The Guardian posted online.

    The newspaper revealed moderators were told to allow videos of abortions “to remain on Facebook as long as they do not contain nudity,” while video records of violent deaths do not have “to be deleted because they can help create awareness of issues such as mental illness.”

    It said ‘handmade’ art that shows nudity and sexual activity can remain in the site,” but digital art showing sexual activity, however, cannot.

    The Guardian also exposed non-sexual physical abuse and bullying of children need not be deleted “unless there is a sadistic or celebratory element.”

    Facebook earlier disclosed that it had only 4, 500 content moderators for its 1.94 billion users, the reason why moderators only have seconds to decide what to delete because the website has become ‘too big, too quickly,” its report said.

    Because of this, Facebook promised to hire more than 3, 000 people to review content. But some organizations still see this as a disturbing fact.

    As reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News, British charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) expressed its frustration about how Facebook works, describing it “alarming to say the least.”

    “It needs to do more than hire an extra 3, 000 moderators. Facebook, and other social media companies, need to be independently regulated and fined when they fail to keep children safe,” the organization said.

    “Any suspicious sites that promote child pornography should be banned,” Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International representative Geraldine Maleon Gutierrez also told The Manila Times.

    She said Facebook should implement stricter plans and responsible actions for the controversy, adding that Facebook administrators “should be responsible enough in any posts that will endanger children from all forms and abuse, and have a mechanism that will help the authorities to track down and punish abusers.”

    Gutierrez added that users have to be responsible and vigilant as well “in reporting any forms of abuse on child pornography, revenge forms and other acts that will perpetuate abuses on children.”

    “Users of social media sites should not share revenge porn, instead they should alert the authorities and concern agencies to help the victims. Users should be aware also of the laws regarding child’s right such as Republic Act 7610 [An Act providing for stronger deterrence and special protection against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination, and for other purposes] for them to appropriately respond in a manner that will protect the victim’s identity,” Gutierrez explained.

    The Guardian said Facebook refused to comment on the figures in the documents but insisted that it “constantly reviews and improves its policies.”

    “We get things wrong, and we’re constantly working to make sure that happens less often. We put a lot of detailed thought into trying to find right answers, even when there aren’t any,” wrote Monica Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, in her column in response to the issue.

    She said, “I hope that readers will understand that we take our role extremely seriously. For many of us on the team within Facebook, safety is a passion that predates our work at the company.”

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