Women In Tech

Letter to Mark Zuckerberg: Why is it so hard to report Facebook Messenger videos portraying violence, pornography and child pornography to the police?

Dear Mark,

I am sorry if this is an emotive post but here goes. I’ve just been sent a violent video of a man abusing a little girl. She is about a year old. It has a sexual component. I am not going to share it, but I would like to be able to report it to the police easily. I received it on Messenger.

I will say that it is beyond evil and I am shaking, angry and frightened. Generally speaking, I am against the death penalty but some people really, really stretch that conviction. That monster in the video, harming that little girl, is one of those people. The urge to protect a child is a visceral and very human response.

According to the Facebook guidelines, you should contact the local authorities first. So, I contacted Hertfordshire Police with the intention of sending them the link so that they could help the little girl. She is really small, Mark; she’s about a year old. I just want to pick her up and get her out of there and away from the monster who is hurting her.

I contact the police and I got onto the webchat quite quickly, but it turned out to be impossible to get the link to the video in Chrome or on my Google Pixel phone. I can do all sorts of things with the video, such as play it in HD or I can complain about video and audio being out of sync….

But I CANNOT get the link to send to the police. This means that this is a ‘no report’ since they can’t action it, and I can’t give them the information that they need. I can’t get the video to the police easily.

If Facebook is all about connections, why can’t I connect to the police when I need to? Not for my sake, but the sake of that little girl. I will see her in my mind for as long as I live, but I can’t help her. I will always think of her.

I am a Facebook user, and probably quite a heavy one: I have maxed out the number of Facebook friends, so I have ‘friends’ and I also have a ‘fan’ page. So I get a lot of messages and I am not good at checking messages because there are so many, and there may be more videos in my Messenger box. I am not sure I ever want to check Messenger ever again. I have never really considered removing my Facebook account, and I am only keeping it open now because of the number of people that I am connected to on it.

But what I really want is to be connected and have an ‘in emergency break glass’ option so I can get Messenger videos to the police really easily. I’m shaking and I don’t want to sift through a ton of useless options that don’t help me to help that little girl quickly. I have a ton of settings that can help me to sort out the video quality, or I can block the person who sent it. I just want to do the right thing and I am shocked at how hard that is to do. When you see something like that, your brain just freezes and it does evoke other memories in your mind, and things are harder to process because of the shock. So it needs to be easy.

Please, Mark, please make this easier for people to get violent, pornography and child pornography to the police, who just want the link to the video. I don’t understand why this isn’t in place already.

You’ve done so many cool technical things with Facebook as it is; why can’t we all put our heads together, and do this thing to help protect children? We prioritize the things that we value, and we do the things that are in line with what we value.

Being born a girl is one of the most dangerous things in the world. Please, make these videos with violence to children easier to report to the police so that the police can do their jobs.

And let’s catch this man.

Yours,

Jen Stirrup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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