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

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.


Don’t abandon us, we don’t transmit coronavirus, say Cairo’s dogs and cats

Updated 27 May 2020

Don’t abandon us, we don’t transmit coronavirus, say Cairo’s dogs and cats

  • Doctors at the clinic decided to let the pets spread the message
  • Pets looked after at home are highly unlikely to spread any disease

CAIRO: The dogs and cats of a Cairo veterinary clinic have an important message, and they are taking it to the Internet.
Don’t abandon us. We don’t spread the coronavirus.
“We started this campaign after noticing that there were many people leaving dogs and cats outside our clinic,” explained veterinarian Corolos Majdi at the Animalia clinic in the Egyptian capital.
Pets looked after at home are highly unlikely to spread any disease, but dogs or cats abandoned on the street can be dangerous, he said.
Doctors at the clinic decided to let the pets spread the message. They began photographing dogs and cats wearing signs explaining that keeping them is safe. The photos are posted on social media sites on the Internet.
“I don’t transmit the coronavirus. Please don’t be frightened of me,” said Loola, a white French Poodle. Or rather that’s what was written on the sign she sported for her photoshoot.
Poosey, a 3-year-old long-haired cat, and Snowy, a white Griffon dog, took turns posing with a sign saying: “I love you. Please don’t throw me out in the street.”
“Please don’t worry, dogs don’t transmit the coronavirus,” said Snowy’s owner, a young girl named Julia Joseph. “God created these animals so we can care for them.”