July 30, 2020
TO: Companies Joining “Stop Hate For Profit” Pause in Facebook Ads
FROM: Concerned Facebook Shareholders
RE: WHY YOU SHOULD EXPAND FOCUS TO INCLUDE CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE ON FACEBOOK
As long-term shareholders in Facebook, we empathize with all corporations and other groups electing to “hit pause on hate” and believe that your support for the “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign at Facebook will help make it a better company. We are 100 percent in alignment with your views that “profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism and violence.” As concerned shareholders, we actively encourage Facebook and other companies to do the right thing and, as a result, avoid the litigation, regulation, reputational damage, and other risks that pose a danger to the long-term viability of the company.
That is why we have approached “Stop Hate For Profit” organizers and drawn their attention to the child sexual abuse and exploitation facilitated every day on Facebook. Today, we are appealing to the hundreds of companies that have joined the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign to expand their focus as they engage with Facebook and help make Facebook the safe place it should be.
Here is the sad (but little known) truth: Facebook (including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp) is the world’s #1 hub of reported child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and the company is not doing enough to stop the problem. In 2019 there were nearly 17 million reports of child sexual abuse material online, and of that, nearly 16 million – or 94 percent – came from the Facebook platform.
We are urging the advertisers who have signed on to the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign to speak out about the child sexual abuse online that is now being proliferated every hour of every day on Facebook’s platforms. We know that sexual exploitation of children is violence! The burden of sexual abuse online is exacerbated by racism. African American and other children of color are disproportionately impacted by sexual abuse and sexual exploitation online:
African American children are victims of sexual abuse at almost twice the rate as white children.
African American youth are overrepresented in child sex trafficking cases. According to the FBI, more than half of juveniles arrested as participants in the commercial sex trade are African American children.
Over 91 percent of girls appearing in Los Angeles’ STAR Court, a court for child sex trafficking victims, are African American or Latina.
The World Health Organization estimates 200 million children are sexually abused each year and much of that abuse is online or captured and distributed digitally.
Facebook needs to take more serious steps to address the scourge of child sexual abuse online and make sure its current and future policies put child safety at the forefront. Facebook’s limited corrective efforts to date have been laudable, but they are not even putting a dent in the problem. The truth is that the reported incidents of child sexual exploitation and grooming have increased dramatically from year to year over the past decade and Facebook is proposing changes to its platforms that will make it even harder to spot, stop and investigate this horrendous crime.
When the damage is done, it is already too late to do something about it. Law enforcement can only do so much in mopping up after a crime already has occurred. Facebook has a responsibility and enormous potential to prevent new grooming and keep children from getting into the hands of pedophiles worldwide by stopping the problem at its source. Once abuse gets online and is shared, children are victimized over and over again as offenders fixate on these images and even stalk their victims. And the evidence of horrendous crimes against children continues to circulate online for years afterwards.
There is no way that Facebook should be allowed to profit from advertising money that (intentionally or otherwise) supports child sexual abuse. And yet it does today.
This is a form of hate and violence aimed disproportionately at Black children and other youngsters of color that cannot be allowed to continue. Facebook must be held to account here every bit as much as it is for the other hate and violence already focused on in the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign. Please help hold Facebook accountable for the major role its platforms and policies play in child sexual abuse online and add this to your list of critical issues that you are demanding that Facebook take action on.
Lisette Cooper, Vice-Chair, Fiduciary Trust International, and former CEO, Athena Capital Advisors
Michael Passoff, CEO, Proxy Impact
Josh Zinner, CEO, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Cathy Rowan, Maryknoll Sisters
Kyle Wright, CEO, Stardust Fund
Lori Cohen, Executive Director, ECPAT-USA (non-shareholder supporting group)