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.


Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

Updated 19 November 2018
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Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

  • US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors
  • Raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation

HELSINKI: Social media in Finland was ablaze with bemused comments on Monday after US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors.
Speaking to reporters during the weekend while in California to see the impact of devastating forest fires, the US president again blamed forest management, but said Finland had the answer.
Trump cited the Finnish president as telling him Finns “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things (in the forest), and they don’t have any problem.”
However the Nordic country’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper on Sunday that he had no recollection of raking being mentioned when the pair met in Paris a week ago.
“I told him that Finland is a country covered in forests, but we also have a good warning system and network,” the president said.
Finnish social media users were quick to pile in, describing Trump’s comments as “rake news” and posting pictures of themselves brandishing the garden implement.
By late Sunday, raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation which is 72 percent covered by forests, predominantly of pine, birch and fir.
Meanwhile Yrjo Niskanen, head of emergency preparedness at Finland’s national forest center, said the US president may have been referring to the practice of removing branches and loose material left in the forest after logging.
But he pointed out that this is not done with a rake — and the wood is collected for energy production.
“I’ve never thought before that it could be removed because of the fire risk, that’s not mentioned in any forestry manuals. It’s taken away purely for business reasons,” Niskanen told the Iltalehti newspaper.