Facebook failed to prevent its platform being used to auction a 16-year-old girl off for marriage in South Sudan.
Child early and forced marriage (CEFM) is the most commonly reported form of gender-based violence in South Sudan, according to a recent Plan International report on the myriad risks for adolescent girls living in the war-torn region.
Now it seems girls in that part of the world have to worry about social media too.
Vice reported on the story in detail yesterday, noting that Facebook took down the auction post but not until after the girl had already been married off — and more than two weeks after the family first announced the attention to sell the child via its platform, on October 25.
Facebook said it first learned about the auction post on November 9, after which it says it took it down within 24 hours. It’s not clear how many hours out of the 24 it took Facebook to take the decision to remove the post.
A multimillionaire businessman from South Sudan’s capital city reportedly won the auction after offering a record “price” — of 530 cows, three Land Cruiser V8 cars and $10,000 — to marry the child, Nyalong Ngong Deng Jalang.
The more than two-week delay between the auction post going live and the auction post being removed by Facebook raises serious questions about its claims to have made substantial investments in improving its moderation processes.
Human rights groups had directly tried to flag the post to Facebook. The auction had also reportedly attracted heavy local media attention. Yet it still failed to notice and act until weeks later — by which time it was too late because the girl had been sold and married off.
This is a feature of the monster that Mark Zuckereberg created, not a bug.