How Facebook Became Home To a Thriving Illegal Wildlife Marketplace

According to an animal-rights group, a covert marketplace thrives just over wedding pictures and cat videos on your Facebook feed.

Wildlife traffickers in privately owned and hidden faces on Facebook and other social media platforms sell tigers, rare reptiles, bear claws, and ivory tusks, Gretchen Peters, Center Executive Manager for Illicit Networks, Transnational Organized Crime and Sky (CINTOC). You can facilitate transactions with Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat messaging apps.

“I believe that Facebook makes the elephant easier to extinct,” Peters said.

Users of ivory bangles and claves are invited to purchase in clandestine groups. These groups operate in large parts of South-East Asia with little supervision of the platforms, Peters alleged.

Her organization supported the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, D.C., with data analysis, which filed a complaint with the United States Securities & Exchange Commission against Facebook in August 2017. (SEC.) The groups bet that this unconventional approach can help end the online trade in endangered species.

Peters told Brent Bambury, CBC Radio’s host on 6 Day, that the “SEC regulations allow the public company not to benefit from illegal activity.” “When every user scrolls via their Facebook feed, ads are intended for those users who pop up next to pictures.”

Peters argued that the company gained money when those ads appeared next to rhino horns for sale.

Facebook says no-poaching

Peters has accused the largest social network worldwide of making little effort to stop poachers from trafficking animals on its platform.

In 2016, groups for animal rights held a meeting in The Hague. Peters said Facebook did not send the representative.

In April, in congressional hearings, after Cambridge Analytica has revealed that it sells millions of information to Facebook users, Georgia congressman Buddy Carter asked Mark Zuckerberg whether it knew ivory was being sold on its network.

“I haven’t heard that congressman,” answered Zuckerberg.

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Illegal animal activity is prohibited on the platform, according to the Community Standards of Facebook.

The Facebook spokesman announced Day 6 in an e-mail, “Our Community standards do not allow for pouching, the sale of animals, endangered species or their parts, and as soon as we know, we immediately remove that stuff.”

‘We do not allow ads on the sale of endangered animals, and we have many systems in place to avoid selling illegal goods.’

Peters said this is unwise, as Facebook often users relies on problem contents to flag.

“If a private group – or a secret group – is present, the people within the group will find flag problem contents scarcely if they buy those illegal goods.”

She said that “undercover” users are charged with entering those groups to report illegal behavior. Peters wants to hand out criminal activity data to law enforcement agencies on Facebook and platforms like it.

SEC complain a ‘backdoor to get in

The SEC’s complaint is an unusual conservation strategy, but legislators will bring it up, Peters believes.

“We view it as an entrance door to save certain endangered species and truly have a strategic impact,” she said.

She argued that this action is more likely to encourage technology companies to be more responsible for their services.

Peters said the complaint might also be extended to deal with other criminal online activities, such as illicit opioid sales.

“As we expand the scope of this complaint, we will, I believe, begin to receive increasing government attention and increasingly urge the SEC to act,” she said.

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The SEC has not yet issued a decision.

Peters acknowledges that the online trade of animals won’t end without traffickers on social media platforms. The traffickers will probably move their business to the ‘dark’ web, where illegal activities such as drug trafficking are rioting – encoded websites that can be reached only using a particular software.

“The way your system is now set up has something wrong, and I feel that adult supervision of what is going on on these platforms needs to be given.”