Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hardcore Porn on Facebook: Blowing lid open on a well guarded open secret

Welcome to this new exposé blog. If you're savvy with internet in any part of the world today, chances are you're familiar with Facebook. Quite likely, you're already on Facebook. If you aren't, the chances are that at least one person close enough to you among family, close friends or coworker network are on Facebook. Maybe they even allow their children to freely use Facebook.

There is a well perceived misconception among mainstream user-base of Facebook as well as among mainstream press (at least in the Western world) that unlike rest of the internet Facebook is mostly free from pornography, and especially hardcore pornography in particular. This is particularly evident with the big deal made in media headline such as below when a temporary virus outbreak caused pornography outbreak on Facebook.

Facebook 'virus' shows hardcore porn and violent images

Or from headlines such as below regarding pro-active efforts at Facebook to fight pornography.

Facebook is part of a high-tech posse fighting child pornography

What is the subject matter to which this blog is dedicated? Hardcore pornography is already quite prevalent on Facebook and has been for quite some time. It is unclear what was the big deal made with virus hardcore porn outbreak in first headline, as it had been prevalent without any virus in the first place.

I'm going to present results of work of 2 to 3 months investigating these issues done by me and another friend of mine. Please note that what I will list in the first post is only a tip of the iceberg, enough to make a strong argument. The actual content we dealt with is way more voluminous, beyond the scope to detail in a single post. Until I go past at least a critical reception threshold in mainstream, and until I see signs of some meaningful traction from Facebook taking actions on this matter I shall remain strictly anonymous about my identity. My friend who helped out towards later stages of this investigation will also remain strictly anonymous. I will also keep all comments disabled on this blog till such threshold is reached. This is because in the beginning, I expect a severe backlash from the pornography perpetrators on Facebook. I have no desire in getting bogged down in direct communications with them.

Even if both of us will remain anonymous, the least I will do is provide some background about ourselves, how we got involved in such investigations and what are our motivations to do such exposé.

I have been a moderate Facebook user for years, and use it a lot for posting comments on blogs, political commentaries etc. Through some random cross-reference from somewhere in late 2012 (details of which, I have no recollections anymore), I somehow randomly fell into a parallel Facebook universe. In it, I discovered some users and their networks exclusively and publicly using Facebook for pornographic content and nothing else. After being very surprised at this and keeping quiet about for it for a week or two, I was compelled to investigate more. Now, I am very well aware of proliferation of ALL sorts of pornography all over the internet. Personally, I am not a prudish person. There is a big difference between ordinary nudity and pornography, especially intensely sexual hardcore pornography. I'm not prudish about ordinary nudity not involving hardcore pornography. But I have never been a consumer of hardcore pornography; in fact I have strong abhorrence to it. BTW, I am not a religious fundamentalist person of any organized religion to cause such abhorrence.

The nature of pornography I ran into was not exactly artistic nudes, softcore pictures of innocent looking young girls running around naked among flowers or grassy hills and rivers. I'm talking about hardest of the hardest core with all natures of sexual activities variations, bestiality, sadomasochism, group sex, various combinations of heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and everything in between and on and on and on. I personally know many people who allow their young children to use Facebook freely, even create their own profiles etc. Considering how oblivious they're about this other parallel universe inside Facebook, I was extremely alarmed.

Facebook is a private business. If they wished to take official position of allowing such content on their sites becoming like rest of internet, they would be perfectly within their rights to do so. It's their business and it would be their decision. How to legally enforce it in various countries they do business in, would be their prerogative. If that was the case however, they would need to be upfront about such policy and let their users decide if they then want to stay with them. It's quite possible some users may want to patronize Facebook more in such hypothetical scenario. It's also possible some users may want to patronize Facebook more as a result of this exposé.

But actually it turns out, Facebook has an official policy of NOT even allowing any nudity, let alone any pornography or hardcore pornography. I do not wish to get bogged down into moralizing debate about whether any form of hardcore pornography is appropriate for grown adults to consume privately. If it involves inappropriate exposure to children AND if it inappropriately uses Facebook platform to do it while Facebook claims policy of disallowing it, then the bias of my abhorrence to such content will do all it can to fight it.

Knowing about official Facebook policy, over a period of about 2 months I took steps of using official Facebook mechanism to report this content to them. I'm NOT accusing Facebook of intentionally allowing or encouraging such content on their site. I'm NOT accusing Facebook of taking no steps to remove such content after it was reported.

But after reporting such sheer large volume of content and its continual onslaught despite removals by Facebook, it became clear to me:

  • Facebook is not pro-active in any manner imaginable about preventing such content. Instead they are exclusively reactive, relying on others to report it.
  • Facebook is NOT efficient in such reporting-correction mechanism. For example, if one flagrantly violating content from a user was reported, Facebook does NOT investigate rest of that user's content and pro-actively disable that user's account for violations. It relies others to report each such content separately, which is a very tedious process.
  • If it is obvious that a user's exclusive purpose of being on Facebook is to share hardcore pornographic content (for example if they had about 500 such images in their account), until recently users had a very buggy procedure to report entire user's timeline. Sometimes it used to work, but often times it would just do nothing at all. If it didn't work, it would require a very tedious process of reporting every single violating image separately. To Facebook's credit, they have revamped this process in last few days to make it easier to report flagrantly violating users.
  • If certain violating content is shared from users to users and became propagated, Facebook is NOT pro-active in following such trail to discover more violating users. Facebook is also NOT pro-active in following more trail from people doing Likes or commenting on such content.
  • For content setup as "Facebook Page" (equivalent to blogging) as opposed to individual account, if such Pages are exclusively dedicated to hardcore pornography, Facebook has a rudimentary way to report entire page for violation. However, after using it on dozens of pages I never saw it working at all. Even after reporting a single violating content from any Facebook Page, they never pro-actively examine rest of the content of such page to flag it for violation. Facebook also does NOT pro-actively examine posts by other users on such pages, and follow their trails based on any of their own violating content posted.
  • The biggest gripe I have against Facebook: Despite their aggressive strategy to expand international footprint all over the world, when it comes to pro-actively tracking violating content based on different languages and cultures, they get failing marks. They seem to take absolutely no such steps. If they claim an official policy of not tolerating pornography, onus should be upon them to have at-least remote understanding of how to detect such content based on different languages and cultures they do business in. None of this is currently happening at all.
  • Facebook has absolutely no personal mechanism to contact any of their representatives, especially by telephone. All of their processes are through impersonal form submissions. It makes it extremely frustrating to expedite resolutions, improve upon tedious reporting process or directly address flagrantly wrong responses from Facebook.
Exclusively ALL of the large volume of content I found and reported originated from users in non-Western countries, i.e. NOT in North America, Western Europe, Australia/New Zealand etc. The biggest bulk of violating users detected were from countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East; with cases from countries in Latin America or Africa. Of course, based on country location declared in a user's profile one can't necessarily assume they're telling the truth. It is a Facebook policy they should, but maybe some violate it. But at least based on the languages being used by the users and community of other users they interact with, I noticed biggest culprit user base based in the Indian subcontinent. Here is my rough list of countries from which violations originated in descending order:
  • India - By far source of THE BIGGEST and MOST FLAGRANTLY egregious violations. This is not surprising to me at all, considering it's the largest nation on earth in terms of population having access to open internet communication. [China does not count due to strict internet censorship policies there.]
  • Most of neighboring countries to India in the Indian subcontinent such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh
  • Turkey
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Iran
  • Saudi Arabia and various other neighboring Arab countries such as UAE etc.
  • Thailand
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • Nigeria
  • Kenya
  • etc. etc. etc.
Shockingly, some inferences I drew indicated remarkably young user-base (as young as high school aged kids, boys and girls equally included) casually taking part in extremely hardcore pornographic communications. This includes not only images/videos, but also extremely explicit sex-chats through public commenting.

My theory for why so many users in these countries jumped onto Facebook for hardcore pornography in recent years is as follows:
  • Facebook becoming available on lowest of the lowest mobile telephone platforms in many countries in Asia is a relatively new phenomenon. This opened up a floodgate of users to Facebook.
  • Large percent of new internet uses in countries such as in Indian subcontinent, Turkey, Egypt etc. are not desktop users at all. Especially among lower economic demographic and younger student demographic they use internet and Facebook exclusively on mobile telephones.
  • Without making excessively sweeping generalizations: Middle-aged and middle-class parents of students in those societies are extremely oblivious to latest technologies changes. Significant portion of them still have no internet access on desktop or any requirement for it, let alone being aware of intricate details of what exactly their children are doing on mobile telephones.
My saga of reporting large amounts of violating content over a 2 month period turned very tedious. Personally, I do not have the time to keep hunting and reporting lots of content over a long period. The number of Facebook glitches in corrective action and lack of pro-active policies mentioned above made me seek alternatives. For last few weeks, I sought help from the other friend of mine (with same disposition as me to these matters) to report more content in parallel. Despite seeking more help, we kept running into more and more glitches and frustrations with Facebook.

It was at this point that I decided that enough was enough, and blow publicity wide open about this issue through this blog. I have decided to publicize this blog to as many mainstream media as practical, hoping to get Facebook to officially address this issue in some public way. Such publicity is definitely not good for Facebook, but I'm compelled to take this recourse after having spent so much time with frustrations on this issue.

Until there is more traction on pro-active efforts by Facebook, I have also decided to publicly out flagrantly violating users and pages in this blog. Basically I will start listing direct links and profile names on an ongoing basis here, until I notice some signs of changes in Facebook actions. With that said, here goes the first installment of the public shaming. This reporting of violations will be valid as of the time of posting. Of course, as content on Facebook changes dynamically - particularly it is possible for Facebook to have removed it in the future - it is possible this information will be stale at the time of reading.

Please beware, if intending to click on these links: If you're at work, are around small children or offended by pornography, this can be extremely disturbing. IT IS EXTREMELY NSFW. In any such cases, DO NOT CLICK.


https://www.facebook.com/LunVsPhuddi/photos_stream
Facebook Page Name: Lun vs phuddi

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yeh-Jism-Pyar-Karna-Nahi-Janta/616959748330431?id=616959748330431&sk=photos_stream
Facebook Page Name: Yeh Jism Pyar Karna Nahi Janta

http://www.facebook.com/Twilight.Eclipse27/photos_stream
Profile Name: Іі'амаԁԁістєԁ То Чоця Гоџє'вавч

And now, comes THE MOST DAMNING portion of this exposé documenting with pictures the reasons behind the frustrations. These very clearly document some flagrant faults with Facebook's corrective mechanism.

NSFW

Not safe if surfing in presence of children or offended by the imagery. Exit your browser (tab) or hit the browser back button now. Otherwise, keep scrolling down.





























NSFW

Not safe if surfing in presence of children or offended by the imagery. Exit your browser (tab) or hit the browser back button now. Otherwise, keep scrolling down.


LAST CHANCE, YOU HAD BEEN WARNED!

























Now, some would accuse me: Having personal abhorrence to hardcore pornography, why am I posting various images here in such gory details in the first place? In order to document my evidence and not be accused of making empty threats, unfortunately I'm forced to share such images here.

So here goes an example of a flagrant violation.


Individually report it to Facebook, and check out what their response is! This is quite shocking, hard to believe.



OK so how about attempting the alternative approach of reporting this user's entire timeline instead, since it's full of hardcore pornography anyway:






And Facebook's response is as below. Could this be real, it's beyond shocking!


Let's double-check other aspects of their timeline just to be sure. Check out following 2 images, and definitely this looks as pure unadulterated hardcore pornography. If this doesn't violate Facebook's community standards, what does?




Here are more examples of flagrant violations with some other users, blocked on Facebook to take corrective action.





















And here are summaries of loads of frustrations about some Facebook Pages with public content like below.








Using the "Report Page" mechanism to report entire page such as in below images does what? It does absolutely nothing! There is no acknowledgement or feedback from Facebook and absolutely no corrective action. Certainly if such page hypothetically contained hundreds of violating images, expecting each of them to be reported separately is NOT a reasonable expectation.




Here is another example of a flagrantly violating public image from some other user.


Notice that despite having reported it as early as January 10, 2013 there is still no corrective action by Facebook whatsoever. Having to wait for close to 2 months for such an image to be removed looks very damning on Facebook's part.