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Whistleblowers to SEC: Facebook Is Hiding Illegal Activity

Newser — Arden Dier

A whistleblower complaint filed with the SEC claims Facebook has failed to adequately police illegal activity on its platform, including sales of drugs and child pornography. The complaint filed Tuesday by critics, including a former Facebook content moderator, further claims Facebook has hidden the extent of illegal activity from its shareholders in violation of its fiduciary duty, per the Washington Post, which obtained a copy.

Included are dozens of pages of screenshots of drug sales on Facebook and its Instagram app. Some posts are rather overt, including the hashtag #buydrugsonline. "Compared to hate speech, they did not seem to worry about drugs at all," reads a sworn statement from the ex-moderator, though a report indicates Facebook removed up to 8.8 million pieces of drug-related content in the final quarter of 2019.



An ex-employee of a cybersecurity firm hired by Purdue Pharma to stop OxyContin counterfeiters wrote that eBay, Alibaba, Craigslist, and Google agreed to remove illegal sales around 2012 and 2013, but Facebook refused and "aggressively lobbied other social media platforms including Twitter not to take action." The ex-moderator claims there were also private groups where child porn was auctioned, with payment apparently made through Facebook Pay, but no means of alerting Facebook Pay execs.

Internet firms are exempt from liability for user-generated content, but Facebook could face sanctions under federal banking and national security laws. Stephen Kohn, the lawyer who filed the complaint, adds authorities should be interested in the drug activity as Facebook is "sitting on a massive amount of evidence." (Facebook recently reached a huge settlement with moderators.)

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