Human Trafficking Allegations on Instagram Nearly Got App Banned by Apple – Report


We keep learning more and more from that recent Wall Street Journal report about Facebook and its Instagram division and, wow, is it some tough stuff to digest.

person holding smartphone
Photo by Georgia de Lotz

On top of admitting that it knew the Instagram app was harmful to certain demographics, we now know the company nearly got its app pulled from the Apple store due to human trafficking concerns.

This ban came in response to the 2019 BBC report detailing human trafficking concerns on the app, PetaPixel reports.

Organized under various hashtags, these accounts would post pictures offering the person pictured for a variety of services including domestic labor.

The BBC report detailed how these human traffickers would not only sell these women as domestic services on various apps but would then resell them to others for a higher price. Some of the workers were as young as 16 years old and, in many cases, buyers are urged to confiscate the victim’s passport.

From the BBC report:

“Apps including 4Sale and Instagram enable employers to sell the sponsorship of their domestic workers to other employers, for a profit. This bypasses the agencies, and creates an unregulated black market which leaves women more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

This online slave market is not just happening in Kuwait.

In Saudi Arabia, the investigation found hundreds of women being sold on Haraj, another popular commodity app. There were hundreds more on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.”

Google and Apple offered statements to the BBC back in 2019 about the alleged trafficking.

“We have asked BBC to share additional details so we can conduct a more in-depth investigation. We are working to ensure that the app developers put in place the necessary safeguards to prevent individuals from conducting this activity on their online marketplaces,” Google said in a statement.

“App developers are responsible for policing the user-generated content on their platforms. We work with developers to take immediate corrective actions whenever we find any issues and, in extreme cases, we will remove the app from the Store. We also work with developers to report any illegalities to local law enforcement authorities,” Apple explained.

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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