MP calling for ‘urgent’ change as Facebook ‘gets it very wrong’ over child abuse content

Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper

Facebook’s moderation of graphic content is “very wrong” and must “urgently change”, Yvette Cooper has claimed.

The former chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee made the assessment after leaked documents claimed the social networking giant instructs its moderators only to remove certain threats of violence, but not some references to child abuse.

Ms Cooper, who is defending the Pontefract and Castleford constituency in the General Election, said while she welcomed Facebook’s recent announcement to increase its number of moderators to tackle the issue, “too much harmful and dangerous content is getting through”.

Facebook has come under increased pressure in recent months over its influence on almost two billion active users and the control it has over the content that appears on the platform. According to files published by The Guardian, Facebook does not automatically delete evidence of non-sexual child abuse in order to help identify and rescue the child involved.

Ms Cooper, who chaired the committee in the last parliament, said this approach was “very wrong”, adding: “These files demonstrate why powerful social media companies, including Facebook, have to be more transparent as the Home Affairs Select Committee recommended.

“They also show why we were right to call on social media companies to urgently review their community guidelines, as too much harmful and dangerous content is getting through. None of this is easy, and we welcomed Facebook’s commitment a fortnight ago to hire thousands more staff to tackle the problem and bring in more safety measures.

“But on child abuse they are still getting this very wrong and now the guidelines are public and will be discussed, I hope they will urgently change them.”

The leaked dossier also claimed comments posted about killing Donald Trump are banned by the social networking site, although violent threats against other people are often allowed to remain. It shows “credible violence” such as posting the phrase “someone shoot Trump” must be removed because he is a head of state. However, generic posts stating someone should die are permitted as they are not regarded as credible threats.