Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook works “harder than any other company” to identify and report online child exploitation during a Wednesday hearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee.
The Facebook CEO’s comments came in response to questioning regarding a Sept. 28 New York Times investigation that found child abusers allegedly used Facebook Messenger in nearly 12 million instances of sexual abuse material out of 18.4 million instances that were reported, citing people who studied the reports.
Additionally, Facebook made 16.8 million of those 18.4 million reports to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2018, according to an Oct. 4 letter to Zuckerberg from Attorney General William Barr and three other officials.
“[16.8] million — as confirmed by the Department of Justice — of the 18.4 million worldwide reports of child sexual abuse material are on Facebook. … These 18.4 million reports from last year included a record 45 million photos and videos. These are absolutely shocking numbers,” Republican Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner said.
“It’s estimated that 70% of Facebook’s valuable reporting to [NCMEC] would be lost if Facebook implements its end to end encryption proposal. Mr. Zuckerberg, how much is this figure growing year after year? And if you enact end to end encryption, what will become of the children who will be harmed as a result that they’re not reporting?” she asked.
Zuckerberg said Facebook’s high volume of child sex abuse reports is due to the company’s commitment to identifying such behavior. (RELATED: Facebook Announces Effort To Clearly Mark Fake News Ahead Of 2020)
“Congresswoman, those reports come from Facebook. The reason why the vast majority come from Facebook is because we work harder than any other company to identify this behavior,” he said.
Zuckerberg continued to explain that Facebook builds “sophisticated systems” to identify child sex abusers on the platform, adding that he doesn’t “think Facebook is the only place on the internet where this behavior is happening. I think the fact that the vast majority of those results from us reflects the fact we actually do a better job than anyone else of finding it and acting on it.”
The Facebook founder previously addressed how Facebook would encrypt messages to protect user privacy while also working with law enforcement to make sure criminals do not take advantage of the system in a March blog post.
“Encryption is a powerful tool for privacy, but that includes the privacy of people doing bad things,” Zuckerberg wrote. “When billions of people use a service to connect, some of them are going to misuse it for truly terrible things like child exploitation, terrorism, and extortion. We have a responsibility to work with law enforcement and to help prevent these wherever we can.”
Wednesday’s hearing on Facebook’s cryptocurrency plan, Libra, came after David Marcus, who leads the tech giant’s crypto project, gave testimony during House Financial Services Committee hearings regarding Libra on July 16 and 17.
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