Report: Apple Threatened to Remove Facebook From App Store for Failing to Curb Human Trafficking


Apple threatened to remove Facebook from its app stores if the social media giant did not do more to curb Middle Eastern human trafficking trades on its platform, a new report says.

The Wall Street Journal recently documented Apple’s threats against Facebook, which were made over the latter’s insufficient efforts to remove pages that advertised trafficked domestic servants available for coercive trade.

“On Facebook and Instagram, unscrupulous employment agencies advertised workers they could supply under coercive terms, using their photos and describing their skills and personal details,” the report stated.

Facebook was working to prevent the use of its platform for these illicit means, but not to the satisfaction of Apple, it seems.

While Facebook did take down some of the pages, the Journal says that they “took only limited action to try to shut down the activity until Apple Inc. threatened to remove Facebook’s products from the App Store unless it cracked down on the practice.”

Apple issued the threats following the release of a 2019 BBC report which detailed how traffickers used Facebook and other online platforms to advertise and arrange sales of slave laborers.

“Drive around the streets of Kuwait and you won’t see these women. They are behind closed doors, deprived of their basic rights, unable to leave and at risk of being sold to the highest bidder,” the BBC report read.

“But pick up a smartphone and you can scroll through thousands of their pictures, categorised by race, and available to buy for a few thousand dollars.”

After being alerted to the issue, the report stated, Facebook had banned one of the hashtags involved which translated to “maids for transfer.”

“We will continue to work with law enforcement, expert organisations and industry to prevent this behaviour on our platforms,” a Facebook spokesperson told the BBC at the time.

Yet it apparently took the threats from Apple to prompt them to do more to address the sale and trade of human flesh being promoted on their platforms.

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