An AP news story reports that an anonymous whistleblower has filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging that Facebook is facilitating and profiting from illegal wildlife trafficking on its social media platform. The anonymous whistleblower’s attorneys at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, LLP, (KKC) issued a press release and statements from the whistleblower. The full press release can be read here.
The whistleblower’s statements reveal their investigation into several online platforms, including Facebook, eBay, and Instagram. They state in the KKC press release:
“The amount of wildlife being traded on closed and secret groups on Facebook is horrifying. We saw multiple products: rhino horn, bear claws, tiger skins, reptiles, and tons and tons of ivory. At a time when the world is losing 30,000 elephants a year to poachers, the amount of ivory sold on Facebook is particularly shocking.”
“Through months of undercover work, we were able to identify more than one dozen distinct networks operating on Facebook. We traveled to Vietnam and Laos to meet with a number of ivory traders in person, confirming that they were actively selling ivory and other endangered wildlife products.”
In the AP story, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, Stephen M. Kohn, states “Facebook is not an innocent bystander to these crimes.” He continues, “Facebook sold advertisements on the very pages the illegal ivory was being marketed.”
Illegal wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion dollar annual industry that threatens both human security and biodiversity. The National Whistleblower Center, through its Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program, will continue working to eliminate wildlife trafficking on online platforms.
Demand that SEC Chairman Jay Clayton conduct an expedient and thorough investigation into the extent of Facebook’s involvement in wildlife crime.