Instagram caught hosting online 'slave markets': Details here
Instagram dominates as one of the most favored places for sharing precious moments with friends and family. It's one of the least controversial products sitting under Facebook's umbrella, but a recent report from BBC tells a completely different and disturbing story. The outlet recently conducted an investigation and found that Instagram has been serving as a hub for online slavery. Here's all about it.
During a recent probe, the folks at BBC News Arabic discovered that domestic workers and slaves are being sold and bought through various online platforms, including Instagram. They found this 'booming black market' in Kuwait and claimed that several human traffickers were caught using different Instagram accounts to post pictures of domestic workers, labeled and categorized by race, for purchase.
Along with using Instagram as a host for online slave markets, the traffickers were also found using the platform's algorithm-based hashtags to boost the reach of their posts. According to BBC, they shared pictures of domestic workers, with prices around a few thousand dollars, and used hashtags like 'خادمات للتنازل#/#maidsfortransfer' to promote them. Meanwhile, all the purchase-related discussions happened via private messages.
While Instagram's humongous user base gave traffickers access to a larger audience, other apps listed on Apple and Google's app stores were also found engaging in a similar practice. One of these was 4Sale, an app that listed a 'domestic workers' category on its website/app and allowed buying slaves by customizing the results on the basis of race and price.
Some of the listings on 4Sale's website read like "Indians are the dirtiest" and "African Worker, Clean and Smiley". However, as soon as the BBC contacted the store, it removed the workers' section.
Following the BBC's report, Facebook issued a statement saying they have removed the illegal hashtag and taken down as many 703 accounts being used for human trafficking. Apple and Google also claimed they're looking into preventing the issue. However, despite these assurances, reports indicate that many slave listings are still up on Instagram and other apps listed on Google and Apple app stores.
While the case of online slavery is scary, it's not the first time where Facebook and other social media services have been used for illegal activities. A few months back, we had reported on the case of public Instagram and Snapchat accounts being used to promote/sell illegal guns in the US. An app was even used to track's women movements in Saudi Arabia.