This story was first published on August 26, 2015
In what universe is it NOT a violation of any decent set of ‘community standards’ to steal a picture of a sick baby and use it just to gather social media likes?
Let me explain:
A few days ago, I reported a Facebook post that featured an image of a baby with a large growth on the side of her head. The post claimed that the baby had a brain tumour and that users could help raise money to help her by liking, commenting and sharing. According to the post, Facebook will donate $1 for every like, $3 for every comment, and $10 for every share.
Of course, the post is just another disgusting sick baby scam designed to gather large numbers of likes for a particular Facebook Page. Liking, sharing, and commenting will do nothing whatsoever to help the pictured child. Facebook certainly will not donate money based on how many times users interact with a post.
As I discuss in more detail in a separate article, the baby in the photograph was suffering from an extremely rare sarcoma tumour. The tumour was removed in April 2012. But, these scammers stole her image from another source for use in their fraudulent post.
Soon after I reported the scam post, I received a reply from Facebook that stated:
We reviewed the share you reported and found it doesn’t violate our Community Standards.
Really Facebook? Really?
If this was the first and only time that I’d had this result when reporting a sick baby scam, then I would just put it down to an unfortunate error or a poor judgment call. But, there is a seemingly endless stream of these sick baby scams and they have been circulating on Facebook for years. And, over those years, I’ve reported a great many of them. Alas, I almost always get the same reply claiming that the reported post ‘doesn’t violate our Community Standards’.
And, many other Facebook users have told me that they have had the same experience when reporting these scams.
So, Facebook, let me just clarify, so I understand. What you’re telling me is that stealing a picture of a sick child and adding it to a fraudulent post that tells outright lies designed solely to mislead your users is NOT a violation of your community standards? Even though these fake posts can cause great harm and ongoing distress to the targeted children and their families, you don’t see them as a violation of your standards? And, you don’t have a problem with the fact that the post tells a deliberate and damaging lie about your company by claiming that you will donate money based on user participation?
If so, then there is clearly something wrong with the standards you have in place and with the way that you react to offensive and fraudulent material posted on your network.
Facebook, I think it is time that you finally took some meaningful action to stamp out these scams. In my opinion, you have an ethical obligation to deal with them and you should have done so years ago.
If these sick baby scam posts don’t violate your community standards, then you need to CHANGE your community standards. Any organisation that does not consider the deliberate, callous, and wilful exploitation of sick or injured children to be a violation of its ‘community standards’ is surely out of touch with the expectations of any decent people who use its services.
And you also need to update your reporting procedure in relation to sick baby scams. When reporting a post, users are given a series of options to choose as reasons for reporting. But, at least in my opinion, there is no option that clearly fits this type of scam post. Given that these scams are very common and have circulated for years on end, there SHOULD be a clear and easy way to report them.
The disgraceful people who create these scam posts are beneath contempt. They have no place on our social networks and should be ousted and reviled for their contemptible behaviour. But, dear Facebook, by your continued and utterly reprehensible lack of action, you share the culpability of the immoral users who create such scam posts in the first place. For goodness sake, DO SOMETHING TO STOP THEM!