Facebook owner Meta is getting rid of a controversial policy that gave users a way to seek out and request human smuggling services.
The company said in a policy memo that came out last week that it was scrapping content that “facilitates or coordinates the exploitation of humans, including human trafficking.”
Meta’s new policy for Facebook is in an effort to “disrupt and prevent harm.” Hence, it now prohibits content that promotes, depicts or advocates for the exploitation of humans.
Under its new policy, the platform will flag content or behavior that may lead to human exploitation, such as sex trafficking, orphanage trafficking or orphanage voluntourism, sales of children or illegal adoption, domestic servitude, recruitment of child soldiers, labor exploitation and non-regenerative organ trafficking.
Content or behavior that promotes forced marriages or forced criminal activity, such as forced drug trafficking and forced begging, will also not be allowed. To sum it up, the company stands against content that promotes the recruitment of potential victims, be it through force or more crafty non-consensual acts like fraud, coercion, deception, enticement, and blackmail.
Facebook quietly reversed its policy that allowed for the solicitation of human smuggling services on Thursday. The @freebeacon broke the story on the initial policy roughly one year ago. https://t.co/gdDrcIDprD
— Joe Gabriel Simonson (@SaysSimonson) December 10, 2022
This decision comes about ten months after it first came out that the company permits such services. The Washington Free Beacon reported in February that Meta was allowing users to use its platforms to solicit human smugglers. While it prohibited users from offering human smuggling services, it permitted the solicitation of the services.
At the time, Meta explained that it allowed such requests in order to help people seek safety and exercise their human rights. According to the company, the decision NGOs working with migrants and asylum seekers, former border enforcement officials, and other stakeholders advised the permission of the solicitations.
Meta said at the time that it would permit the sharing of information related to illegal border crossing as it explained that it could “mitigate the risks” that way.
With its revised policy, the company substantiated many Republican lawmakers’ fears that the facilitation of human smuggling would lead to the abuse of migrants. While Facebook had insisted then that human smuggling could not lead to human trafficking as the two terms had differing definitions, the company now understands that the two terms are related and both qualify as “human exploitation.”
However, the social media company will still allow content asking for or sharing information relating to personal safety. Information about seeking asylum, border crossing, or how to leave a country also remains permitted.