Should the social media giant be relying on users' views to formulate policy on sexual predators who target children online?

On Sunday, a bizarre and disconcerting question popped up on some people’s news feeds. It asked, “how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14 year old girl for sexual pictures.”

It then listed four options that people could pick, including that the content should be allowed.

After the flak it drew for the same, Facebook's Vice President of Product, Guy Rosen, admitted the surveys was "a mistake".

In none of the survey questions did Facebook indicate that law enforcement or child protection should be involved in the situation, the Guardian reported. 

"We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies," Rosen said. "But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on Facebook. We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn't have been part of this survey. That was a mistake," he added.

The questions

Jonathan Haynes, Digital Editor at The Guardian tweeted screenshots of the survey questions on Sunday.

Facebook appears to be asking users about what its policy should be about handling grooming behaviour online. And it is well known that these predators prowl social media looking for vulnerable children and teens who they can manipulate to ultimately sexually exploit them.

What was quite problematic though, as Jonathan remarked in another tweet, was that Facebook should not be relying user responses to deliberate on policy about child sexual abuse.

A statement issued by a Facebook spokesperson said, “We understand this survey refers to offensive content that is already prohibited on Facebook and that we have no intention of allowing so have stopped the survey. We have prohibited child grooming on Facebook since our earliest days; we have no intention of changing this and we regularly work with the police to ensure that anyone found acting in such a way is brought to justice.”

(With IANS inputs)