DUBAI, UAE – According to a recent report from the Associated Press, Apple had at one point threatened to remove Facebook from their app store due to there being concerns that the social media platform was being used as a means to trade and sell maids abroad.
Facebook once faced the threat of being removed from Apple's app store over maids being bought and traded on its websites, documents obtained by the @AP show. #TheFacebookPapers https://t.co/fFVUStgdmO
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 25, 2021
The threat from Apple to remove both Facebook and Instagram from their app store occurred in 2019, but Apple obviously didn’t follow through with those threats of yanking the social media platforms from their app store.
Facebook had reportedly promised to crack down on instances where the platform is being used to traffic these maids in the Middle East, as the social media company acknowledged publicly that they had previously been “under-enforcing on confirmed abusive activity” in light of Filipina maids complaining on the platform of enduring abuse.
However, as noted in the Associated Press report, Facebook apparently hasn’t been doing that great of a job in the aforementioned effort:
“Even today, a quick search for ‘khadima,’ or ‘maids’ in Arabic, will bring up accounts featuring posed photographs of Africans and South Asians with ages and prices listed next to their images. That’s even as the Philippines government has a team of workers that do nothing but scour Facebook posts each day to try and protect desperate job seekers from criminal gangs and unscrupulous recruiters using the site.”
Internal Facebook documents acknowledged that certain countries within the Middle East were more prone to engaging in “especially egregious” human rights abuses in this realm:
“In our investigation, domestic workers frequently complained to their recruitment agencies of being locked in their homes, starved, forced to extend their contracts indefinitely, unpaid, and repeatedly sold to other employers without their consent. In response, agencies commonly told them to be more agreeable.”
Said internal Facebook documents also mentioned that their investigation into the matter also uncovered instances where these “recruitment agencies” were “dismissing more serious crimes, such as physical or sexual assault, rather than helping domestic workers.”
In response to these internal documents becoming public, Facebook issued a statement to address the controversy, noting that they’re continuously working to end their platform as being used as a vehicle to enable human trafficking of all stripes:
“We prohibit human exploitation in no uncertain terms. We’ve been combating human trafficking on our platform for many years, and our goal remains to prevent anyone who seeks to exploit others from having a home on our platform.”
Interestingly, internal documents also revealed that Facebook was well-aware of these sorts of issues prior to the 2019 BBC report that eventually led to Apple threatening to pull the plug on Facebook and Instagram from their app store.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 31, 2019
As early as 2018, the social media company knew there was a growing issue with what internal documents referred to as “domestic servitude,” defining the problem at the time as a “form of trafficking of people for the purpose of working inside private homes through the use of force, fraud, coercion or deception.”
The problem became so prevalent that Facebook had even crafted an internally-used acronym dubbed as “HEx” to describe the matter – which signaled “human exploitation.”
In response to the 2019 report from the BBC, Facebook went to work disabling over 1,000 accounts across Facebook and Instagram, which was apparently evidence enough for Apple to retract their threat of removing Facebook and Instagram from their app store.
This piece was written by Gregory Hoyt on October 25, 2021. It originally appeared in RedVoiceMedia.com and is used by permission.
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