FOSTA/SESTA Passed Thanks To Facebook's Vocal Support; New Article Suggests Facebook Is Violating FOSTA/SESTA
from the self-own dept
One of the main reasons FOSTA/SESTA is now law is because of Facebook’s vocal support for the bill. Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly spoke out in favor of the bill, misrepresenting what the bill actually did. In our own post-mortem on what happened with FOSTA/SESTA we noted that a big part of the problem was that many people inside Facebook (incredibly) did not appear to understand how CDA 230 works, and thus misunderstood how FOSTA/SESTA would create all sorts of problems. Last month, we noted that there was some evidence to suggest that Facebook itself was violating the law it supported.
However, a new article from Buzzfeed presents even more evidence of just how much liability Facebook may have put on itself in supporting the law. The article is fairly incredible, talking about how Facebook has allowed a group on its site that helps landlords seek out gay sex in exchange for housing — and the report is chilling in how far it goes. In some cases, it certainly appears to reach the level of sex trafficking, where those desperate for housing basically become sex slaves to their landlords.
Today, in the first instalment of this series, we uncover some of the damage done to these young men ? the sexual violence ? by landlords, and reveal how they are being enabled by two major internet companies, one of which is Facebook. The world?s largest social media platform, BuzzFeed News can reveal, is hosting explicit posts from landlords promising housing in return for gay sex.
In multiple interviews with the men exchanging sex for rent and groups trying to deal with the crisis, BuzzFeed News also uncovered a spectrum of experiences that goes far beyond what has so far been documented, with social media, hook-up apps, and chemsex parties facilitating everything.
At best, impoverished young men are seeking refuge in places where they are at risk of sexual exploitation. At worst, teenagers are being kept in domestic prisons where all personal boundaries are breached, where their lives are in danger.
I’ve seen multiple people point out — accurately — that the article’s focus on Facebook here is a little silly. The real focus should be on the “landlords” who are seeking out and taking advantage of desperate young men in need of a place to live. But, given that the focus is on Facebook, it certainly appears that Facebook has the knowledge required to be a violation of FOSTA/SESTA:
Despite the explicit nature of the postings on the group?s site, the administrator told BuzzFeed News that Facebook has not intervened. ?We have never had an incident from Facebook,? he said. ?If they [members] want to post something that will not fly with Facebook I write them, and tell them what needs to be changed.?
This has not stopped explicit notices being posted.
When approached by BuzzFeed News to respond to issues relating to this group, Facebook initially replied promising that a representative would comment. That response, however, did not materialise, despite several attempts by BuzzFeed News, over several days, to invite Facebook to do so. A week after first contacting the social media company, the group remains on its site.
It still seems wrong to blame Facebook for what the horrific landlords are doing here, but, hey, FOSTA/SESTA is now the law, and it’s the law thanks in large part to Facebook’s strong support for it. So, given all of this, will Facebook now face legal action, either from the victims of this group or from law enforcement?