Facebook Admits to Aiding Human Smuggling, Per Arizona Attorney General

October 17, 2021

By Corinne Murdock |

Facebook admitted to aiding human smuggling across the border, according to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Brnovich submitted an inquiry letter at the end of June, asking Facebook about reports that coyotes (human smugglers) and drug cartels use their platform to advertise human smuggling across the border for purposes of illegal entry and sex trafficking.

In a response at the end of August, Facebook stated that while they do prohibit posts offering smuggling services, they do allow content that instructs people how to enter the country illegally or offers further information about how to be smuggled. The social media giant defended this approach as compromise allowing illegal immigrants information on asylum-seeking while minimizing human trafficking exploitation. Facebook cited “human rights experts” as their guide on this matter. The social media giant didn’t address concerns of sex trafficking in its response letter.

“We have been working diligently to proactively remove content related to drug trafficking or promoting human smuggling services from our platform. As an initial matter, our policies prohibit the use of our services for illegal purposes. Our Terms of Service make clear that individuals who violate our policies may be subject to penalties, including but not limited to, having their accounts banned. We don’t allow […] criminal organizations to operate on our platform. We remove posts and reject ads when we see this kind of behavior to keep people safe. We also prohibit sharing content that offers to provide or facilitate human smuggling, which includes advertising a human smuggling service. We do allow people to share information about how to enter a country illegally or request information about how to be smuggled. After consultation with human rights experts, we developed this policy to ensure we were prohibiting content relating to the business of human smuggling but not interfering with people’s ability to exercise their right to seek asylum, which is recognized in international law. Allowing people to seek and share information related to smuggling can also help minimize the likelihood of them being exploited by human traffickers.” (emphasis added)

On Thursday, Brnovich asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Facebook for admitting to facilitating and encouraging human smuggling.

“[O]ur office requests that your Department investigate Facebook’s facilitation of human smuggling at Arizona’s southern border and stop its active encouragement and facilitation of illegal entry,” wrote Brnovich.

In a press release, Brnovich claimed that Facebook’s actions spoke to a larger issue with Big Tech: a flagrant contempt for the law coupled with the desire to retain its power and profit.

“This is another example of how out of touch Big Tech is with America,” asserted Brnovich. “The cartels are seizing control of our southern border, and shame on anyone who is exploiting this crisis to enrich themselves.”

In their response letter, Facebook referenced its policy prohibiting individuals from “facilitating, organizing, promoting, or admitting to certain criminal or harmful activities targeted at people, businesses, property, or animals.” Their only allowance concerns debate, advocacy, and spreading awareness about harmful or criminal activities.

“In an effort to prevent and disrupt offline harm and copycat behavior, we prohibit people from facilitating, organizing, promoting or admitting to certain criminal or harmful activities targeted at people, businesses, property or animals. We allow people to debate and advocate for the legality of criminal and harmful activities, as well as draw attention to harmful or criminal activity that they may witness or experience as long as they do not advocate for or coordinate harm.”

One of the most recent famous examples of this policy in action was when the social media giant banned previous President Donald Trump for “his praise” of the “violence” that occurred on January 6. The ban was indefinite at first, but was later shortened to a period of two years upon further review.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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