Friday 14 December 2018

Facebook denies failings in father's online auction of child bride

Denial: ‘Any form of trafficking is not allowed on Facebook,’ said social media giant, led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Reuters
Denial: ‘Any form of trafficking is not allowed on Facebook,’ said social media giant, led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Reuters

John Sharman

A father was not challenged as he used Facebook to auction off his teenage daughter for marriage, despite the social media giant having a 30,000-strong community moderation team, a children's charity has claimed.

Plan International said five men in South Sudan had bid to wed the 17-year-old, possibly including high-ranking government officials. Facebook only deleted the father's post after his daughter had been married, it added.

A wedding ceremony was held on November 3 in the country's Eastern Lakes State region, the charity said.

"This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets," said George Otim, the charity's South Sudan country director said in a statement. "That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world's biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.

"While it is common for dowries to be used in marriages in South Sudanese culture, nothing can excuse the way this girl, who is still a child, has been treated as nothing more than an object, sold off to the bidder prepared to offer the most money and goods."

The charity urged the government of South Sudan, the world's youngest country, to suspend any officials found to have been involved. Facebook said that it became aware of the girl's father's post on November 9 and removed it within 24 hours.

A company spokeswoman said: "Any form of human trafficking, whether posts, pages, ads or groups, is not allowed on Facebook. We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook."

© Independent News Service

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