Instagram baby-selling bust prompts call for ‘cyber patrols’

“Social media providers have to be more responsible, have more cyber patrol, and report to the authorities anything irregular so the government can take action,” said Rita Pranawati, deputy head of the government-backed National Commission for Child Protection. (AFP/File)
Updated 18 October 2018
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Instagram baby-selling bust prompts call for ‘cyber patrols’

  • “We have seen sex traffickers use Facebook to recruit victims before, but this is the first time we see babies being sold through Instagram,” said the deputy head of the government-backed National Commission for Child Protection
  • Instagram said it has “zero tolerance” toward child exploitation and — along with Facebook, its parent company — it plans to increase the number of content reviewers

KUALA LUMPUR: Social media companies should step up oversight of their networks and cooperate more closely with authorities, Indonesian child rights advocates said after police busted a human trafficking ring offering babies for sale on Instagram.
Police arrested four people last week in the city of Surabaya who were connected to an account on the photo-sharing application, according to local media reports.
Anti-trafficking experts say technology is fueling modern-day slavery by enabling traffickers to ensnare more victims, expand their illicit empires and outfox law enforcement across the world.
“We have seen sex traffickers use Facebook to recruit victims before, but this is the first time we see babies being sold through Instagram,” said Rita Pranawati, deputy head of the government-backed National Commission for Child Protection.
“Social media providers have to be more responsible, have more cyber patrol, and report to the authorities anything irregular so the government can take action,” Pranawati told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Jakarta.
The Instagram account, which had over 700 followers before it was removed, shared photos of pregnant mothers and babies whose faces were blurred.
It was run under the guise of offering adoption services for mothers who had given birth to children out of wedlock, but police have said there was evidence of money transactions.
Instagram said it has “zero tolerance” toward child exploitation and — along with Facebook, its parent company — it plans to increase the number of content reviewers.
“Our policies clearly prohibit people from engaging in criminal activity and coordinating harm on our platform, which includes the sale of humans,” an Instagram spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
Indonesia has 131 million Facebook users and 59 million Instagram users, according to the data provider Statista, making the country of 260 million people the third and fourth largest audience for the two social media giants, respectively.
“Traffickers are exploiting the popularity of social media to recruit their victims and clients,” said Patar Sihotang of the Jakarta-based non-profit Human Trafficking Watch.
“People who face economic hardship or are in debt tend to fall victims to these online traps.”
An estimated 100,000 children are trafficked each year in Indonesia, with the majority forced into sex trade, according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.


Weinstein reaches deal to settle civil proceedings for $44 million: report

Updated 24 May 2019
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Weinstein reaches deal to settle civil proceedings for $44 million: report

  • The deal, which has not yet been signed, aims to cover all civil proceedings filed against the fallen Hollywood mogul
  • The settlement does not exempt Weinstein from the criminal proceedings brought against him for sexual assault

NEW YORK: Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has reached a provisional $44 million settlement with alleged victims and creditors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The deal, which has not yet been signed, aims to cover all civil proceedings filed against the fallen Hollywood mogul, including those in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Weinstein’s spokesperson denied to comment.
The settlement does not exempt Weinstein from the criminal proceedings brought against him for sexual assault, for which he will go on trial in September.
Weinstein — a catalyst for the #MeToo anti-harassment movement — has been charged over the alleged assaults of two women and faces life in prison if he is convicted at the trial, which could last five weeks.
In addition to the alleged victims and creditors, the settlement covers the proceedings started by former New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who has been succeeded by Letitia James.
The proceedings aim specifically to guarantee the alleged victims will be compensated.
James’s spokesperson also declined to comment.
The settlement amount will be paid out by insurance agencies, the Journal reported, several of which count The Weinstein Company, the production company Weinstein co-founded, among their clients.
Since October 2017, Weinstein — one of the most powerful men in Hollywood before a cascade of sexual misconduct allegations precipitated his downfall — has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 80 women.
Among his accusers are prominent actresses such as Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.