Apple, Facebook, and an Alleged Digital Trade for a Contentious Product

September 23, 2021

I read “Apple Threatened Facebook Ban over Slavery Posts on Instagram.” I have nothing but respect for the BBC, Brexit, and, of course, the Royals. I also believe everything I read online. (Doesn’t everyone?) Against this background, this BBC slavery write up is interesting indeed.

I read  this passage twice to make sure I was getting the message:

Apple threatened to remove Facebook’s products from its App Store, after the BBC found domestic “slaves” for sale on apps, including Instagram, in 2019. The threat was revealed in the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) Facebook Files, a series of reports based on its viewing of internal Facebook documents.

Okay. Slave trade. Facebook. Info from “internal Facebook documents.”

Here’s another passage I circled with my trusty red Sharpie Magnum marker:

The trade was carried out using a number of apps including Facebook-owned Instagram. The posts and hashtags used for sales were mainly in Arabic, and shared by users in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Okay. Arabic. Saudi Arabia. Kuwait.

And the Sir Gawain in this matter? China-compliant Apple.

It [Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal] said the social media giant only took “limited action” until “Apple Inc. threatened to remove Facebook’s products from the App Store, unless it cracked down on the practice”.

I hear the digital French Foreign Legion’s tune Le Boudin. Do you?

And the good news? The BBC stated:

In its June 2020 response to these, Facebook wrote: “Following an investigation prompted by an inquiry from the BBC, we conducted a proactive review of our platform. We removed 700 Instagram accounts within 24 hours, and simultaneously blocked several violating hashtags.” The following month the company said it removed more than 130,000 pieces of Arabic-language speech content related to domestic servitude in Arabic on both Instagram and Facebook. It added that it had also developed technology that can proactively find and take action on content related to domestic servitude – enabling it to “remove over 4,000 pieces of violating organic content in Arabic and English from January 2020 to date”.

Interesting indeed. Slavery. Facebook. Social media. Prompt action documented. Apple the pointy end of the stick for justice. Possible vacation ideas for some. The BBC. And more. Quite a write up.

Stephen E Arnold, September 23, 2021


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