Facebook survey asks bizarre questions about child grooming

Facebook survey asks bizarre questions about child grooming

(Disclaimer: This post will be discussing frank topics that may be disturbing to some readers)

Hot on the heels of Facebook trying to solve their foreign meddling problem with postcards, the social network finds itself in the news once again for all the wrong reasons. Over this past weekend, Facebook users in the UK were asked some rather odd and disconcerting questions in a survey about how they thought Facebook should handle certain volatile situations. A couple of those questions asked about the hypothetical grooming of a 14-year-old girl by an online predator.

As The Guardian reports, the questions asked by Facebook were more than tone-deaf and insensitive by the way they were posed. Facebook asked how it should be handled if an adult man asked for sexual pictures of the 14-year-old girl. The responses users could choose from ranged from “this content should not be allowed on Facebook” to “I would not mind seeing it” and “I have no preference on this topic”. None of the responses included any kind of suggested contact with law enforcement. Facebook has come out with one of the understatements of the year by saying the survey was a mistake.

Now do we think that Facebook is gearing up to become some kind of underground network for child predators? No, we do not. Facebook actually has a better record of dealing with online predators than a lot of other social platforms like Kik, Snapchat, and craigslist. However, this shows once again that Facebook is the textbook definition of ‘the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing’. Whether or not this survey was created by an algorithm or by committee, someone along the Facebook chain of command either allowed this survey to pass by them unnoticed or worse yet, approved the survey.

This is yet another example of how Facebook’s sphere of influence has gotten away from them like so many wild horses. For a company that has such a global reach, maybe it’s time for the social giant to be reined in.