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Facebook, Google, and Apple are being accused of using the services of online slave markets, in a report

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Facebook, Google, and Apple are being accused of using the services of online slave markets, according to an undercover investigation by BBC News in Arabic.

The probe has uncovered a “flourishing black market” for domestic workers in the Persian Gulf, fed by the apps, hashtags, private messages on the tech giant’s platforms. The laborers were bought and sold like a commodity.

In the BBC survey, for example, it was found that the trade took place on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Dealers-used ” algorithm-supports hashtags,” and sales have been effected via private messages, according to the BBC.

Apps Google the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store and also available in deals, according to the BBC.

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“After doing some research, we have banned the hashtag خادمات للتنازل [maids], as is much of the content violated our policies,” a Facebook spokesman told Fox News, via e-mail. “We have also removed the 703 violation of any of the statements. We are constantly improving our technology and are working closely with law enforcement agencies all over the world in order to help us identify and remove this type of content. We encourage people to report, or accounts that they believe pose a threat to others, so that we can quickly take action on it.”

A photo-illustration.
(iStock/Sergey-Q)

“We don’t allow content or behaviours to Instagram, that can lead to exploitation,” the spokesperson added. “Our policy has been developed in collaboration with professional organizations, including the united nations, and do not allow people to post content or for accounts with respect to domestic slavery. We are also working in partnership with organisations around the world, including the Polaris and the National human Trafficking Hotline to provide resources and help for victims and survivors of human trafficking.”

The plight of migrant domestic workers in the Gulf, has already sparked an international controversy. At the beginning of 2018, for example, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte implemented the ban on Filipino workers on their way to Kuwait and in the middle of the dispute is caused by the symptoms of abuse of Filipino maids and workers in the Persian Gulf country. The ban was imposed as a result of the shocking discovery in February of a Filipino stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait City, for more than a year ago.

The ban was lifted in May of last year, according to Reuters.

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At some point in their probe, the BBC, the researchers were given a 16-year-old girl who had been trafficked to saudi arabia from Guinea in the West African sub-region.

Photo illustration, the logos of Facebook, Google, and Apple, and the skyline of Kuwait City. (iStock)

“This is the ultimate example of the modern-day slavery”, Urmila Bhoola, the un Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, told the BBC. “Here, you can see that we have a child that is to be sold and traded like an angel, like a piece of property.”

For its investigation, the BBC’s undercover team of a couple that had recently arrived in the united kingdom. She said, with 57 of the app to users and visited by more than a dozen or so people who are trying to sell to their domestic worker, using a sales app that is called 4Sale.

“4Sale application has been designed to help buyers and sellers find each other on a mobile platform,” explains the app’s description in Apple’s App Store. “The app now has over a million registered users, with more than 600 000 of these are registered and it is growing.”

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The 4Sale site, it describes itself as “the largest sale of a site in saudi arabia,” with more than 1.4 million active members and more than 10.8 million total on advertising.

According to the BBC report, in the 4Sale app allows users to filter, variety and different price ranges are available.

The Kuwaiti Government has said to the BBC that it was “in a state of war with this kind of behavior,” and that the apps will have to be “put under the microscope.” Fox News has reached out to the government of saudi arabia, with a request to comment for this story.

The BBC reports that, after the contact with the 4Sale, the domestic worker, a section was removed from the platform. 4Sale has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Fox News.

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In the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the research also found that hundreds of domestic workers have been sold at Haraj, one of the other resources in the app. Fox News has reached a Haraj to a request for comment on this story.

“We are deeply troubled by the allegations. We do not allow any apps on Google Play, dehumanize, or an abuse of the rights of a person,” a Google spokesman told Fox News, via e-mail. “The Google Play developer policies require developers to provide a strong and continuous moderation of all user-generated content into their apps, and we will take action on any apps that break the rules or break the local legislation.”

Apple also told the BBC that it was “banned” the promotion of trafficking in persons and of the exploitation of children’s apps available on the platform. “We are working with the developer to immediately take corrective measures if we find any issues, and even, in extreme cases, we will remove the app from the Store,” it added.

Fox News has reached to Apple for further comment on this story.

Both the 4Sale, and Haraj will still be available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The BBC reports that the apps are still distributed on the platform (“on the grounds that their primary purpose is to sell legitimate goods and services.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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