Facebook Asks If Pedophiles Should Be Allowed To Contact Minors

The inappropriate survey question, in which a hypothetical situation of a man asking a teen girl for sexual images, was posed to several users over the weekend.

The Facebook logo projected on a screen during a tech conference.

In what it now admits was a mistake, Facebook sent a survey to several account holders over the weekend asking whether or not they’d be comfortable with allowing pedophiles to request pictures from younger users.

The survey asked two questions about a hypothetical situation in which an adult man sent a private message to a 14-year-old girl, The Guardian reported.

The social media site asked users participating in the survey, “In thinking about an ideal world where you could set Facebook's policies, how would you handle” a situation in which an adult asked a teenage girl for “sexual pictures?”

The survey response choices allowed participants to answer, “This content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it,” as well as other responses, including saying it should be allowed but the user wouldn’t want to see it, and saying it should not be allowed at all. A “no preference” option was also offered.

A second question asked who should determine whether to enact such rules — Facebook, external experts advising the site, or users themselves.

Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of product, was quick to respond to criticisms of the survey.

“We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies,” he explained in a Twitter response. “But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on FB. We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn't have been part of this survey. That was a mistake.”

At a time when children are being exploited online several times on a daily basis, it’s unconscionable that such a question was even asked on the social media site. Facebook was wise to admit fault in submitting the idea to users and suggest that their input would change policies on the site itself.

If anything, more should be done to ensure young users of the site remain safe while online — and in light of this recent development, the company should take proactive steps in doing so in the days ahead.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Thomas White/Reuters 

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