Social Media giant Facebook is often a tool for the dishonest, who use the forum to gain access to private information, run money-making scams, and solicit funds and sexual favors from people by tugging at their heartstrings. According to an open letter from Privacy and Security Guide, the latter is exactly what's trending now on Facebook, and they are urging the company to begin policing those posts more carefully.
The letter states:
On February 4 2012, an Open Letter was presented to Facebook in reference to the escalating issue of ‘sick baby’ photos, or “baby charity scam issue” as a Facebook spokesperson later referred. The letter stated that several websites had made collective efforts to prevent the spread of these photographs, and called for their removal. It also requested that Facebook increase public awareness of the issue. To date this has not happened....In the absence of any media drive by Facebook to inform all of its users of the facts, millions of people are re-sharing these photographs, most of which contain a message stating that Facebook will donate money for shares – which is false. Some of these photographs are years old, and are taken from sources such as newspapers or medical journals to which the copyright belongs. Some users are sharing them to gain popularity. Most share them genuinely believing the misleading donation messages, and some even comment on the photos to ask how they can personally donate money. These Facebook users could be at risk of being conned by those who might take advantage of their good nature."
The letter goes on to give stats according to their estimation, which includes the claim that for every link Facebook takes down, 22 more go up. It also adds that the sharing of these photos as well as the scams themselves are devastating for the families of the children involved.
While these are serious claims and the letter is clearly asking for action, the people at Privacy and Security Guide say they understand that a sharing platform as large as Facebook cannot easily monitor every single scam page. However, they do give suggestions on how to make it easier for users to report wrongdoing:
We, the undersigned, formally request that:
- Facebook amend its photo reporting tool to include an option titled “contains material involving children,” possibly with sub-options to more easily inform Facebook as to the nature and issue with the content, such as; “this photo is not the property of the uploader,” “this is a scam exploiting children,” “this photo shows abuse of a child,” and, “this photo contains misleading information.”
- Facebook utilize the tools at its disposal, such as PhotoDNA, to seek out and remove all images represented in the aforementioned document, and any such similar material.
- Facebook take action to rebuke the false claims that Facebook will donate money for shares on these images, and that Facebook does not condone the sharing of such images, which are exploiting the children in question under a misconception.
Facebook's blog offers advice on how to avoid and report several different types of scams, but a search on "sick baby scam" brought up nothing.