Apple threatened to ban Facebook for Mideast maid abuse

Apple threatened to remove Instagram and Facebook from its app store two years ago due to concerns that the platform was being used to trade and sell maids throughout the Mideast.

Apple threatened to ban Facebook for Mideast maid abuse

Facebook admitted in internal documents that were obtained by The Associated Press, that it was "underenforcing confirmed abusive activity". This led to Filipina maids complaining about being abused on the social media platform. Apple conceded and Instagram and Facebook remained in the App Store.

However, Facebook's crackdown appears to have had limited impact. A quick search for "khadima," which means "maids," in Arabic will still bring up accounts that feature posed photos of Africans or South Asians, with prices and ages listed beside their images. Even though the Philippines government employs a team of workers who scour Facebook every day to protect job seekers desperate for work from criminal gangs or unscrupulous recruiters, this is despite the fact that the Philippines government does not have any employees.

Facebook acknowledged that some countries in the Mideast have "egregious" human rights violations when it comes laborers' protection.

One Facebook post stated that domestic workers complained frequently to their agencies about being locked in their homes, starved and forced to extend their contracts indefinitely. They were also repeatedly sold to other employers without consent. "They were often told by agencies to be more accommodating."

The report also stated that "recruitment agencies were more likely to dismiss serious crimes like physical or sexual assault than they are to help domestic workers."

Facebook stated in a statement to AP that it takes the problem seriously despite the spread of exploitative ads targeting foreign workers in the Mideast.

Facebook stated that it prohibits human exploitation in clear terms. "We have been fighting human trafficking on Facebook for many years. Our goal is to stop anyone seeking to exploit others from having an account on our platform."

This story, along with others published Monday, is based on disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen's legal counsel. A consortium of news agencies, including the AP, obtained the redacted versions.

The whole trove of documents shows that Facebook's enormous size and global user base -- which are key factors in its rapid rise and nearly trillion-dollar valuation -- is also its greatest weakness when it comes to trying to control illicit activity like the sale of drugs and suspected labor abuses.

Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters, California is said to have both the obligation and the resources to crack down on abuses it facilitates, given its annual revenue of tens or billions of dollars.

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