Facebook’s ‘disgusting’ paedophilia survey
WHAT on Earth was Facebook thinking?
The social media giant has been blasted for appearing to condone paedophilia by including a strange question in a survey it asked a select group of users to complete.
The company says the questions were designed to gain insight into how users think Facebook's policy is generated, particularly around extreme and illegal content. But the execution left a lot to be desired.
The question that has got everyone so upset asked users their opinion on how Facebook should ideally handle a case in which a male adult solicits sexual pictures from an underage girl on the website.
"In thinking of an ideal world where you could set Facebook's policies, how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures," the survey asked.
The possible responses to that question were:
• This content should be allowed on Facebook and I would not mind seeing it.
• This content should be allowed on Facebook but I don't want to see it.
• This content should not be allowed on Facebook and no one should be able to see it.
• I have no preference on this topic.
After the question was posted to social media it prompted a swift backlash, and Facebook pulled the survey.
A separate question used the same scenario and asked who should make the decisions about whether such content should be permitted on the site. Among the possible answers were "External experts decide the rules and tell Facebook" and "Facebook users decide the rules by voting and tell Facebook".
What seemed to upset the public was the fact that the responses provided for both questions did not give users the chance to suggest that law enforcement or child protection services should be involved in the hypothetical situation.
On Twitter, Facebook's VP of product management, Guy Rosen, said the company regularly works with law enforcement agencies in such situations.
"We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies. But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on FB," he wrote. "We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn't have been part of this survey. That was a mistake."
In an official statement, Facebook reiterated that it did not intend to change its position on content that pertains to pornography or paedophilia.
"We understand this survey refers to offensive content that is already prohibited on Facebook and that we have no intention of allowing so have stopped the survey," the company said in a statement emailed to CNBC.
"We have prohibited child grooming on Facebook since our earliest days; we have no intention of changing this and we regularly work with the police to ensure that anyone found acting in such a way is brought to justice," the statement said.