Slavery is one of many industries made more efficient by Silicon Valley, and specifically, Facebook-owned Instagram.
A new BBC investigation reveals the widespread online sale of human beings in the mideast for domestic labor. The buyers and sellers use services from Instagram, Facebook, Apple, and Google to facilitate slavery transactions.
Housekeepers and nannies are purchased and sold as slaves through Instagram, promoted using hashtags, and promoted on other apps in Google Play and Apple's App Store.
These workers live their lives in Kuwait mostly behind closed doors, invisible and with no rights to protest abuse by their employer/enslavers.
After being alerted to the issue, Facebook said it had banned one of the hashtags involved.
Google and Apple said they were working with app developers to prevent illegal activity.
The illegal sales are a clear breach of the US tech firms' rules for app developers and users.
However, the BBC has found there are many related listings still active on Instagram, and other apps available via Apple and Google.
More: Slave markets found on Instagram and other apps [BBC.com]
This is what happens when you're focused on growth at all costs.
These companies don't care who gets hurt while aiming for ever higher advertising rates and engagement. https://t.co/Esa48NL08E
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) November 1, 2019
Pick up a smartphone & you can scroll through 1000's of their pictures, categorised by race, & available to buy.
Quick to cash in, tech giants have been slow to ensure their inventions don't become weapons of abuse.#ModernSlavery #HumanTraffickinghttps://t.co/Du7zXyemRX
— Lou Cahill, RN (@Cahill_Lou) November 1, 2019
Want to buy a human in Kuwait? There's an app for that. Undercover investigation of how Facebook, Google, and Apple make money off of the Gulf's online slave trade, by @Jeky_Kelly and @OwenPinnell. https://t.co/cRKd3OjvGT
— Aron Lund (@aronlund) November 1, 2019
MUST WATCH – Domestic workers are being sold on an app along with cars and TVs. When people's lives are sold as a commodity. There is a word for it: slavery. https://t.co/0zxCUyLPlW
— Martin Patience (@martinpatience) November 1, 2019
In one case, the BBC team was offered a 16-year-old girl. It has called her Fatou to protect her real name.
Fatou had been trafficked from Guinea in West Africa and had been employed as a domestic worker in Kuwait for six months https://t.co/mgAUBY7LbF
— ود البيه (@khalidalbaih) November 1, 2019
The hits just keep coming for Instagram. First, illegal drugs. Then, ISIS recruiting. Then, endangered species. Now, slavery. With this as backdrop, the head of Insta is defending FB's policy on lies in political ads. https://t.co/4ckJ3z5hAs
— Roger McNamee (@Moonalice) November 1, 2019
"Some of the trade has been carried out on Facebook-owned Instagram, where posts have been promoted via algorithm-boosted hashtags, and sales negotiated via private messages." https://t.co/xhsU524hu6
— blmohr (@blmohr) October 31, 2019
"You can wake her up at 5a.m., she won't complain." Slave trading on an app near you https://t.co/CNxPyVCn5k
— Maria Aristodemou (@maariaris) November 1, 2019
Facebook is helping Kuwaiti slave traders conduct their business more efficiently via Instagram. Yet another industry disrupted by Silicon Valley. https://t.co/h9ZmXCZxUg
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) November 1, 2019