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US group says it found Facebook posts featuring endangered wildlife for sale

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This illustration, taken on November 2, 2021, shows 3D-printed images of the logos of Facebook and parent company Meta Platforms on a laptop keyboard. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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SHANGHAI, April 13 (Reuters) – Facebook has become an « emerging market » for the illegal online wildlife trade, allowing the sale of many critically endangered species, according to a report Wednesday by US-based campaign group Avaaz.

A search on the social media platform has uncovered 129 posts listing endangered species for sale, including baby tigers, African gray parrots and the pygmy marmoset, the world’s smallest monkey, Avaaz researchers said.

« Avaaz’s research shows that wildlife trading on Facebook happens in broad daylight, » said Ruth Delbaere, Avaaz’s senior legal campaigner.

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“Facebook poorly enforces its own policies, enabling an international trade that has devastating effects on biodiversity and the stability of natural ecosystems,” Delbaere said.

Facebook’s guidelines prohibit content that aims to buy, sell, trade, donate, or gift endangered species or parts.

A spokesperson for Facebook owner Meta (FB.O) told Reuters that it was unfair to judge the company’s enforcement efforts based on just 129 posts and removed pages that violated its policies.

“The results do not reflect the extensive work we have done to combat wildlife smuggling on Facebook,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company has introduced technology that finds and removes such content and alerts users who search for it.

« Still, this is a hostile area and the people behind this horrific activity are persistent and constantly improving their tactics to try to avoid these efforts, » the spokesperson said.

Illegal wildlife trafficking has come under scrutiny over claims that the virus that causes COVID-19 may have crossed the species barrier from bats to humans through China’s extensive animal trade network.

Since the beginning of 2020, China has been trying to curb the trade of all kinds of wildlife for food.

China’s Supreme Court also issued new guidelines last week saying that legal efforts to combat smuggling must cover the entire criminal supply chain, from poaching to processing.

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Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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