The Securities and Exchange Commission building, located in Washington, D.C.

Members of Congress are urging the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the illegal trafficking of wildlife on Facebook. On May 14th, Representatives Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Jared Huffman (CA) filed a letter to the SEC saying that Facebook was breaking laws that require public companies to protect shareholders and prevent illegal activity. The letter demanded an investigation into the illegal wildlife trafficking on Facebook.

D.C.-based law firm Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto (KKC) sparked the Congressional inquiry after filing a complaint with the SEC alleging the social media giant facilitates illicit trade in wildlife products. KKC previously filed the anonymous complaint against Facebook in August 2017.

On Friday, May 18th, ABC 7 News Washington aired a story about the KKC complaint, featuring Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, Stephen Kohn. In the interview, Kohn states that Facebook shareholders need to know “they’re investing in a company that is driving a worldwide extinction crisis, that has refused to implement internal controls which are required under SEC rules that would prevent criminal activity.”

Kohn goes on to explain how Facebook not only profits off the trade of endangered animals, but knowingly promotes advertisements next to illegal products like ivory, tiger skin, bear claws, and more. He says Facebook is benefitting off the traffic brought to the illegal trading, and the website strategically places ads around the sales. “There is no doubt,” Kohn said. “There’s no doubt they’ve known about it for a long time.”

The Congressional inquiry stemmed from several events. On May 8th, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued wide-ranging recommendations to increase the effectiveness of paying informants and whistleblowers to report illegal wildlife trafficking. On the same day, a landmark bill addressing the international crisis of wildlife trafficking was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018 (H.R. 5697), will dramatically increase wildlife crime enforcement and activate wildlife whistleblowers, protecting endangered and at-risk species of animals as well as whistleblowers around the world.

You can find out more about the bill and support it by following the links below:

Support the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018


Media:

Watch and read the ABC News story

Read the Inverse story

Read the NY Post story