Back in 2018 Facebook received a lot of hate for several different reasons but one of those reasons many of us have somehow forgotten about. Facebook, the social media giant asked users through a survey about whether or not pedophiles should be able to ask for ‘sexual pictures’ from CHILDREN.
While we are used to seeing surveys from time to time, this one was not something many expected. Now, this specific survey was cut out after backlash began but that doesn’t negate its presence to begin with. This survey asked basically how you would handle a private message in which an ‘adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures?’ This being under the circumstance that ‘you’ the user were able to set policies for the giant social media platform.
Most people who saw this were quite blown away because of course, things like this should be taken as seriously as possible and Facebook should not have to ask about that in any sense. They even had the audacity to include an answer option that said something along the lines of ‘this content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it’ according to USA Today. I know, some people may say it’s just a survey but there is something that feels quite off about all of it.
USA Today wrote as follows on all of this when the issue first came into light back in 2018:
Another question asked who should decide whether an adult man can ask for sexual pictures on Facebook, with options ranging from “Facebook users decide the rules by voting and tell Facebook” to “Facebook decides the rules on its own.”
Jonathan Haynes, digital editor at the Guardian newspaper, tweeted: “I’m like, er wait is making it secret the best Facebook can offer here? Not, y’know, calling the police?”
“That was a mistake,” Guy Rosen, a vice president of product at Facebook, responded.
“We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies,” he wrote on Twitter. “But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on (Facebook). We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn’t have been part of this survey.”
“It is hard to believe that Facebook could be so utterly tone-deaf when it comes to this issue,” said Diana Graber, founder of Cyber Civics and CyberWise which teach digital literacy to kids and parents. “The fact that Facebook would even pose this question theoretically is disgusting.”
In a statement, Facebook said the survey referred to “offensive content that is already prohibited on Facebook and that we have no intention of allowing.”
Stacey Steinberg, a law professor at the University of Florida and author of Sharenting: Children’s Privacy in the Age of Social Media, says the Facebook survey sent a “terrible message” and, worse yet, normalizes predatory behavior.
Facebook shouldn’t be asking users whether such behavior is acceptable, it should be educating families on the risks posed by online predators, she said.
While this is not something that Facebook is asking now it is quite telling. Considering how dangerous the online world is for children and those at risk overall, these questions should never have been asked. However, looking back now it does highlight an issue that needs to be talked about more. Children are groomed all the time online, and we need to do more to stop it.