Title image: South Sudan – Symbolic picture
Facebook has come under fire for a “barbaric use of technology” that allowed the sale of a child bride to be held on its site.
An auction was held on the social media platform for a 16-year-old girl in Christian South Sudan which sought payment for her hand in marriage.
Facebook said the post was taken down as soon as the company learned of it, but that wasn’t until after the girl was married.
Despite various appeals made by human rights group, a 16 year old girl child became a victim to an online marriage auction post, which was not taken down by Facebook in South Sudan. Sinking part is that people are now opting for social media for fulfilling orthodox rituals.
Despite various appeals made by human rights group, a 16 year old girl child became a victim to an online marriage auction post, which was not taken down by Facebook in South Sudan. Sinking part is that people are now opting for social media for fulfilling orthodox rituals. pic.twitter.com/tj4cMADeFN
— H4Human (@h4humanrights) November 20, 2018
According to children’s rights organization Plan International, the girl was bid on by five men, some of whom were reportedly high-ranking South Sudanese government officials.
Activists are concerned that this auction — for which the father reportedly received 500 cows, three cars and $10,000 in exchange for his daughter — could inspire other families to use social media sites to receive larger payments.
Plan International’s country director in South Sudan, George Otim, said: “That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.”
He added: “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets.”
Removed from Facebook 15 days after being posted
Facebook told CNN that its platform was used for the bidding, which started on October 25, and that it removed the post on November 9 — 15 days later.
“Any form of human trafficking — whether posts, pages, ads or groups is not allowed on Facebook. We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
“We’re always improving the methods we use to identify content that breaks our policies, including doubling our safety and security team to more than 30,000 and investing in technology,” the spokesperson added.
Call on government to investigate officials
Plan International has also called on the South Sudanese government to investigate and suspend any officials involved in the bridal auction.
“Child marriage is a serious violation of human rights and a form of violence against girls,” Otim from the group said in a statement.