Sen. Hawley: Meta’s human trafficking solicitation is ‘inflicting incalculable damage’

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM News


Human smuggling can involve daring feats of rescuing individuals from harmful situations, but real-world implications of policies that enable even this kind of human trafficking can be abused by bad actors, which still harms innocent lives. That’s why tech giant Meta is in the hot seat once more for allowing solicitations for human trafficking services, a move that’s been said to inflict “incalculable damage” upon the U.S.

On Wednesday, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) educated Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, Inc., which includes well-known social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, on the stark outcome his company’s decision can have on U.S. security. Hawley began his letter, which was also obtained and circulated by the Washington Free Beacon, “Illegal immigration to the United States is a crime. Not only do unlawful border crossings compromise national security, undermine the rule of law, and impose costs on law-abiding American taxpayers, they also endanger those willing to break the law in order to enter the country.”

Hawley then turned the focus to the cartel’s use of young children to smuggle drugs into the country, saying pointedly that Meta’s new policy “makes your company complicit in that harm.”

The internal memo was reported on by the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday. After five months of deliberation, Meta officials decided that cracking down on a surge in Facebook groups dedicated to human trafficking would hinder an individual’s ability to “to seek safety or exercise their human rights.”

The official policy for Meta bans content offering human trafficking services but does allow for solicitations of the service. The internal memo discussed a way to mitigate risks of bad actors who would abuse such as “sending resources to users soliciting smuggling services.”

The details of what these resources would entail are unreported. A company spokesperson confirmed that Zuckerberg’s company would continue with their current policy at this time, despite concern from U.S. legislators and law enforcement.

Hawley pushed back against the company’s take with a frank warning, “Let me be clear: No matter what ‘humanitarian’ rationale your company can come up with for allowing individuals to solicit criminal activity, or what ‘resources’ your company intends to provide potential migrants, its current approach is inflicting incalculable damage.”

Later, he reminded Zuckerberg that his company “is not outside the law” concerning “criminal activity.”

“Perhaps a future presidential administration, one less sympathetic to your company’s political leanings, will be interested in investigating your company’s decisions to aid and abet such unlawfulness,” Hawley wrote in one barbed comment against the Biden administration.

He finished by demanding responses by Feb. 11 on what resources Meta used to determine this was the best policy, what resources they intended to provide those seeking human trafficking help, and how the company intended to remain compliant with federal antitrafficking laws.

Hawley has been part of bipartisan concerns against the ill effects social media may have on Americans. In September, Democrats initiated a similar attack on Zuckerberg over Instagram’s contribution to poor mental health among young users. 

On Thursday Meta stock crashed by 26%, costing Zuckerberg $29 billion, after the company released a weaker sales forecast than anticipated.