Philippines: Facebook used as platform for illegal trade of human organs; company responds

Author: Pichayada Promchertchoo, Channel News Asia (Manila), Published on: 19 October 2019

"Kidney for sale: How organs can be bought via social media in the Philippines", 20 Oct 2019

In the Philippines, advertisements for healthy kidneys are common on social media...

“It has been observed that all forms of trafficking in persons, whether for sex or labour trafficking, are now being committed through the use of online platforms like social media,” said Yvette T Coronel, deputy executive of the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking under the Department of Justice...

In a written statement to CNA [Channel News Asia], a Facebook spokesperson said there are clear rules that prohibit the buying or selling of regulated goods on the platform, including human organs.

"We remove this content whenever we become aware of it, and we encourage our community to report content that they think might break these rules," the spokesperson said.

CNA found multiple examples of such posts that contravene Facebook's rules. However, the platform quickly took action to remove the posts once notified. Facebook also said its law enforcement team works closely with the Philippines' law enforcement agents to assist them in responding to critical situations...

Still, universal regulation of social media networks has proven problematic. On Facebook, for instance, a number of users in the Philippines have put up posts offering to sell their kidneys openly, and with numerous details - from phone numbers to the results of various health tests...

With the trade expanding online, there are calls for social media companies to do more to curb the illicit proliferation. According to Dr Sarmiento [Dr Francisco Sarmiento from the Philippine Organ Donation and Transplantation programme under the Department of Health], popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which he said are "vehicles for advertisement", should be engaged in the nationwide human trafficking eradication efforts.

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Related companies: Facebook Instagram (part of Facebook)