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Facebook refused to remove sexualised images of children- Damian Collins

Facebook has been criticised for its handling of reports about s*xualised images of children on its platform.

The chairman of the Commons media committee, Damian Collins, said he had “grave doubts” about the effectiveness of its content moderation systems.

Mr Collins’ comments come after the BBC reported dozens of photos to Facebook, but more than 80% were not removed.

They included images from groups where users were discussing swapping what appeared to be child abuse material.

When provided with examples of the images, Facebook reported the journalists involved to the police and cancelled plans for an interview.

It subsequently issued a statement: “It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation.”

Mr Collins said it was extraordinary that the journalists had been reported to the authorities when it was trying to “help clean up the network”.

On its welcome page, Facebook says it does remove obscene material.

“Nudity or other sexually suggestive content” it states are not allowed on the platform.

It encourages users to report inappropriate content via its “report button”.

That found “secret” groups were being used by pedophiles to meet and swap images.

Information the journalists provided to the police led to one man being sent to prison for four years.

To test Facebook’s claim, the journalists used the report button to alert the company to 100 images which appeared to break its guidelines. They included:

  • pages explicitly for men with a sexual interest in children
  • images of under-16s in highly s*xualised poses, with obscene comments posted beside them
  • groups with names such as “hot xxxx schoolgirls” containing stolen images of real children
  • an image that appeared to be a still from a video of child abuse, with a request below it to share “child pornography”

Of the 100 images only 18 were removed.

According to Facebook’s automated replies, the other 82 did not breach “community standards”. They included the apparent freeze frame.

Facebook’s rules forbid convicted s*x offenders from having accounts.

But they found five convicted pedophiles with profiles, and reported them to Facebook via its own system. None of them were taken down.

“I find it very disturbing, I find that content unacceptable,” said Mr Collins in response.

“I think it raises the question of how can users make effective complaints to Facebook about content that is disturbing, shouldn’t be on the site, and have confidence that that will be acted upon.”

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