Facebook, as we all know, has been under fire for plenty of disturbing reasons. The company selling user data to Cambridge Analytica has gotten a lot of attention, and earlier this year it was accused of yet another contemptible activity: making a profit by selling ads on the pages of illegal wildlife traffickers.

Facebook policy prohibits selling any animals on the platform. The company insisted that it doesn’t permit the sale of wildlife or their parts and that it removes groups that have been identified as engaging in illegal conduct.

So why, then, are over 1,500 live and dead animals, including critically endangered species, available for sale online in Facebook groups in Thailand?

The wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC made this discovery while conducting an investigation during one month in 2016. In a report published September 12, the group says the 200 species offered for sale included the critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill and 25 Siamese crocodiles. Removing just one of these animals from the wild could lead to the extinction of the species.

Asiatic black bear for sale on Facebook in Thailand.

The most common animal for sale is the Sunda slow loris, which is illegally sold as a pet and a photo prop for tourists to Thailand. Some of the animals are native to Thailand, such as the Asiatic black bear and Siamese crocodile, while others, including the Eurasian otter and black spotted turtle, are not. All of these animals are prohibited from international trade. More than half of them are also protected under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act.

In March, Facebook was one of 21 technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, that joined the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, whose mission is to reduce online wildlife trafficking by 80 percent over the next two years.

If Facebook truly supports this cause, then the illegal animal trade on its platform has certainly decreased since 2016, right? Wrong. Memberships in these groups have almost doubled, from 106,111 in 2016 to 203,445 in 2018. Ten of the 12 groups that TRAFFIC discovered  in 2016 remain active. One of them has become a secret group.


Spotted owlet for sale on Facebook in Thailand.

In response to the report, a Facebook spokesman told Gizmodo that material related to the sale or trade of endangered species or their parts is removed as soon as the company becomes aware of it. “We are committed to working with TRAFFIC to help tackle the illegal online trade of wildlife in Thailand,” the spokesman said.

But as Gizmodo reports, Facebook made the exact same promise two years ago, after another TRAFFIC investigation discovered the illegal trade of wildlife on the platform in Malaysia. “We are committed to working with TRAFFIC to help tackle the illegal online trade of wildlife in Malaysia,” Facebook said at the time in a statement to BBC News. Sound familiar?

To help stop the illegal pet trade in Thailand, TRAFFIC recommends that Thai authorities establish a close working relationship with Facebook and develop strategies to help resolve this issue. More importantly, TRAFFIC notes, Thailand’s laws need to change to provide protection and regulations to threatened non-native species that currently lack either.

“Giving such species protection under Thailand’s law and enabling enforcers to take action is the strongest way to address this critical conservation problem,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, TRAFFIC’s acting regional director in Southeast Asia, said in the report.


Want to tell Facebook that this illegal wildlife trade is unacceptable? Join over 4,000 other Care2 members and sign the petition demanding that the company stop profiting from illegal wildlife traffickers.

Source : care2


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