Facebook used to auction off child bride in South Sudan

Facebook used to auction off child bride in South Sudan.JPG
Posted at 10:21 AM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 10:21:00-05

(CNN) - A Facebook auction held over a child bride in South Sudan has sparked criticism over the social media network’s monitoring practices.

The girls' family held the auction to seek the largest dowry for their daughter from the highest bidder. Facebook has told CNN that its platform was used for the bidding, which started on October 25.

According to children's rights organization Plan International, the girl was bid on through Facebook by five men, some of whom were high-ranking South Sudanese government officials.

"The girl's father reportedly received 500 cows, 3 cars and $10,000 in exchange for his daughter, who was married off to the winning bidder at a ceremony on 3 November in the country's Eastern Lakes State," Plan International said in a statement.

The group's Country Director in South Sudan George Otim added, "That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world's biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief."

Facebook said the company first learned of the post on Nov. 9 and quickly removed it, after the girl had been married.

"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 Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Facebook added, "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."

Plan International said it is calling on the South Sudanese government to investigate and suspend any officials involved in the bridal auction. Equality Now, an organization focused on gender equality, is calling on Facebook to improve monitoring practices.

"Violations against women in South Sudan are a continuing issue, but for Facebook to allow their platform to enhance these violations is a problem," said Judy Gitau, Equality Now's regional coordinator for Africa.

She told CNN that Facebook has a responsibility to uphold women's rights, and added, "They ought to put in place more human resources to monitor their platform to ensure that women's rights, and indeed the rights of all people, are protected."

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