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BBC, Facebook Engage In Bizarre Fight Over Child Porn

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Facebook reported the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to authorities in the U.K., after the media outlet forwarded pornographic content with children that was allegedly shared on the social media site.

BBC says it sent Facebook evidence of sexualized images of children it found on online groups because the social media company asked it to provide examples of such content for an upcoming interview. BBC was conducting an investigation into the social media company’s content moderation system and its potential imperfections since, to the outlet, the problem seemed rampant.

BBC alleges that of the 100 images it showed Facebook, only 18 were removed because an automated response said the other 82 apparently did not violate the tech company’s community standards. (RELATED: Facebook Removes Company’s Lingerie Ads Featuring Transgender, Amputee)

BBC allegedly complied with the tech conglomerate’s request and provided the material. But soon after, Facebook notified U.K. police and canceled the interview.

“It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation,” Facebook told BBC. “When the BBC sent us such images we followed our industry’s standard practice and reported them to CEOP [Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre].”

The content in question, according to BBC, included:

  • pages explicitly for men with a sexual interest in children
  • images of under-16s in highly sexualised 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.’

“We have carefully reviewed the content referred to us and have now removed all items that were illegal or against our standards,” Facebook said, referring to the assertion that it removed more than the originally reported 18. (RELATED: Cancer Awareness Group Draws Square Breasts For Video After Facebook Censors It)

Facebook has rules in place forbidding convicted sex offenders from having accounts.

The BBC says it discovered and reported five convicted pedophiles with their own profiles during the course of the investigation. (RELATED: Study: Everyone Is Guilty Of Trolling On The Internet)

“I find it very disturbing, I find that content unacceptable,” said Damian Collins, the chairman of the media committee in the Commons, the lower parliamentary body in the U.K. “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.”

David Jordan, BBC’s director of editorial policy, expresses his confusion over Facebook’s alleged choice to report his organization to the police.

“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,” Jordan told his own media outlet. “One can only assume that the Facebook executives were unwilling or certainly reluctant to engage in an interview or a debate about why these images are available on the Facebook site.”

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