Illegal trade of wild animals is an issue plaguing countries across the globe, and it seems that social media has helped business. Now, Facebook is trying to counter the cruel illegal wildlife trade by cracking down on Southeast Asia’s social media trading scene.
The sale of animals is banned on the social media platform. Despite this, in the first five months of 2020 World Wildlife Fund researchers found that 2 143 wild animals from 94 species were on sale on Facebook in Myanmar alone, according to Reuters.
They report that approximately 92% of these posts advertised living animals, including wild cats, gibbons, langurs, and birds of prey.
According to some charities focused on wildlife, over 500 ads, accounts and groups were removed from the platform in April and July after they were reported to the social media giant. They added that Facebook noted it’s employee’s remove this content as soon as they become aware of it.
“We are committed to working with law enforcement authorities around the world to help tackle the illegal trade of wildlife,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
Naing Zaw Htun, a senior forestry department official, told Reuters social media had become “one of the major drivers of the wildlife trafficking”.
However, Elizabeth John, senior communications officer for TRAFFIC, a non-government organisation, said that Facebook has been proactive in trying to address the issue.
Despite this, they mostly rely on tip-offs from NGO’s before they catch wind of any illegal trade. This means the logistics are not working, regardless of how keen they are to assist.
Michael Lwin, founder of Myanmar-based tech start-up Koe Koe Tech, said that a more systematic response is needed.