American News Oct 20, 2021 1:12 AM EST

Arizona attorney general urges Justice Department to investigate Facebook’s facilitation of human smuggling

Facebook admitted in a letter dated July 30 to Brnovich that "we do allow people to share information about how to enter a country illegally or request information about how to be smuggled."

Arizona attorney general urges Justice Department to investigate Facebook’s facilitation of human smuggling
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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On Thursday, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich wrote a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting his assistance in investigating Facebook after the company admitted to allowing posts regarding human smuggling or entering a country illegally to be posted.

"Earlier this year, our office was made aware of media reports detailing how human smugglers and drug cartels were allegedly using Facebook to encourage and instruct its users to engage in illegal activities," wrote Brnovich.

"Our office wrote to Facebook to clarify its policies and procedures for preventing such misuse of its platform. On August 30, 2021, we were surprised to receive an in-depth response from the company (attached) stating that its platform 'allow[s] people to share information about how to enter a country illegally or request information about how to be smuggled,'" the letter continued.

Facebook admitted in a letter dated July 30 to Brnovich that "we do allow people to share information about how to enter a country illegally or request information about how to be smuggled."

"After consultation with human rights experts, we developed this policy to ensure we were prohibiting content relating to the business of human smuggling but not interfering with people's ability to exercise their right to seek asylum, which is recognized in international law. Allowing people to seek and share information related to smuggling can also help minimize the likelihood of them being exploited by human traffickers," Facebook's letter continued.

That letter was issued in response to one earlier in the summer from Brnovich to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in which he requested a response from the company in regards to reports that the company was letting "human smugglers and drug cartels" use their platform. "To advertise their services to assist migrants on their dangerous journey and unlawful entry into the United States.

"Facebook does claim to 'proactively' remove content related to drug trafficking and human smuggling, but it primarily relies 'on automated post scanning systems to identify violations.' Facebook identifies no mechanism to distinguish between authorized and unauthorized posts, nor is it clear how it differentiates the two," Brnovich wrote to Garland. "Ultimately, Facebook's enforcement mechanism is a paper tiger."

Brnovich wrote that "Arizona is gravely concerned about this unprecedented border crisis," noting that Facebook's allowance of such posts "seriously undermines the rule of law."

"The company is a direct facilitator, and thus exacerbates, the catastrophe at Arizona's southern border," wrote Brnovich.

Brnovich wrote that his office will "pursue all legal means to hold the company accountable" and urged that Garland and the Department of Justice "take an equally firm stance against Facebook's facilitation of human and sex trafficking."

"Our office requests that your Department investigate Facebook's facilitation of human smuggling at Arizona's southern border and stop its active encouragement and facilitation of illegal entry," Brnovich's letter said.

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