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You are here: Home / Digital Life / Facebook Pedophilia Poll a 'Mistake'
Oops! Facebook Pedophilia Poll Was a 'Mistake'
Oops! Facebook Pedophilia Poll Was a 'Mistake'
By Levi Sumagaysay Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
If Facebook wouldn't allow pedophiles to solicit sexual images of children on its site, why would it ask users what they would do if it happened?

As they struggle to contain abuse and objectionable content on their sites, tech giants are continually asking users and others for their opinions. But Facebook is backtracking after asking the following question during a survey of thousands of users over the weekend: "In thinking about an ideal world where you could set Facebook's policies, how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures?"

The survey asked similar questions about content related to extremism, the Guardian reported. In each case, the social media giant asked whether the content should be allowed on Facebook; whether users would mind/not mind seeing such content; and who should decide the rules surrounding such content -- Facebook only, Facebook users, Facebook with expert input. The questions did not include a mention of getting law enforcement involved.

When a Guardian editor tweeted about the survey, Facebook Vice President of Product Guy Rosen responded Sunday: "We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies. But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on FB. We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn't have been part of this survey. That was a mistake."

In a statement Monday, a Facebook spokesman added: "We understand this survey refers to offensive content that is already prohibited on Facebook and that we have no intention of allowing so have stopped the survey. We have prohibited child grooming on Facebook since our earliest days."

Some responses to Rosen's tweet questioned how the company could make such a mistake.

"It is the result of work carried out and approved by more than one person within Facebook no doubt and is grossly inappropriate," tweeted Sinead Quealy of Ireland. "It illustrates an arrogant disregard for laws or ethics. The mind boggles."

The backlash about the survey comes as Facebook continues to grapple with moderating user-generated content, including fake news in the wake of the U.S. presidential election -- some of which the company has disclosed was posted by Russian-linked trolls.

Twitter has been dealing with similar issues, and last week put out a call for help in figuring out the "health" of public conversations on its platform as it works to find solutions.

Facebook has also gotten heat from child advocates over its new Messenger Kids app. The messaging app is meant for children under the age of 13, and an alliance of educators, parents and advocacy groups has asked Facebook to pull the app over concerns that it could get kids started on the path to social media and tech addiction early.

© 2018 San Jose Mercury News under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.

Image credit: Facebook; iStock/Artist's concept.

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