Hontiveros urges Facebook, Twitter to crackdown on sexual exploitation of women, children

Published March 3, 2021, 12:33 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on major social media giants Facebook and Twitter to crack down on criminal activities in their platforms, especially the online sexual exploitation of women and children.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Hindi lang fake news ang madaling kumakalat sa social media, pati mga pang-aabuso din sa ating kabataan at kababaihan (It is not only fake news that are easily spread through social media. It now includes abuses on women and the young). Social media platforms that still are not able to address this growing problem should be made accountable,” Hontiveros said.

During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, lawyer Lawrence Aritao of the International Justice Mission said that in 2020, they received over 1.2 million reports of online sexual exploitation. That’s almost three times the reports from 2019, which registered about 400,000 reports.

“This is a dramatic rise in a span of only a year. Mas pinalala talaga ito ng pandemya, lalo na at marami ang nakababad sa social media (This was made worse by the current pandemic, especially now that many are immersed in social media). Social networks should prioritize ending the proliferation of these crimes before even thinking of expanding their products,” Hontiveros said.

“I hope that social media companies, especially Facebook, can attend our next hearing. Filipinos use Facebook the most among other platforms, so their insights will be very crucial in finally ending exploitative activities under their roof,” Hontiveros said, adding that the committee will call another hearing specific to concerns surrounding social media networks.

Last year, Hontiveros had called on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to take down pages that are sexually exploiting children. She had called on the agency to arrest the users running pages and groups that propagate child sexual abuse materials.

In time for Women’s Month, the senator also recently filed Senate Bill 2068, or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Law, that imposes duties for social media platforms.

The bill states that any social media network or similar entity that is found guilty of failing to comply to the requirements of the bill shall suffer a penalty of P10,000,000.

“Social networks should start taking this issue seriously. Ang buhay at hinaharap ng ating kababaihan at kabataan ang nakasalalay ditto (the lives and future of our women and the young are at stake here). We always welcome innovation, but not if it comes at the expense of the Filipino people,” Hontiveros added.

 
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