Facebook group becomes online market for videos exploiting children to fund distance learning needs

March 10, 2021 - 2:17 PM
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Image by Ongchinonn via Pixabay

Sen. Risa Hontiveros bared a Facebook group with more than 7,000 members where lewd videos of children are allegedly sold for distance learning.

This was part of the Senate’s investigation to end online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in the country, which reported surge of OSEC cases amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Hontiveros shared screenshots of the Facebook group with lewd inquiry.

She also expressed alarm over the possibility of more Google drives and social media channels where teenagers and children could be abused in exchange for their financial needs for distance learning.

“May mga batang napipilitan magbenta ng sexual videos in exchange for money para sa modules nila for online learning. Ilan pa kaya ang mga groups, mga messaging apps, Google drives na di natin alam na nangaabuso na pala ng ating kabataan?” said the lawmaker.

Hontiveros also called on Facebook to review its policies on keeping the children safe on the platform.

“How can social networks ensure us that they put the interests of our people, our young people, over their products? Please, review your policies. Review your community standards. Let’s not downplay the seriousness of the situation,” she said.

In the comments section, the senator also urged the public anew to report these online accounts and groups

“If you know of similar groups and pages here on Facebook or on other platforms, i-link niyo dito at i-report!” Hontiveros said.

She previously filed the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children law or Anti-OSAEC Law before the Senate “to strengthen the protection of children against online sexual abuse and exploitation.”

READ: Hontiveros urges public to report social media pages sexually exploiting children online anew

Child rights groups have reported an increase in suspicious transactions and cyber tip reports linked to child sexual abuse and exploitation from 2019 to 2020, the same period when the strict lockdowns were imposed.

Other dangerous schemes

This was not the first time Hontiveros cited a specific Facebook group that contains obscene videos and photos of children.

Last year, she reported the page called “Mahilig sa Bata” in her letter to the National Bureau of Investigation and asked the agency to help her take it down.

She also asked the NBI to investigate the people behind such online operations.

In February 2020, an alleged sex trafficking activity was discovered in various group chats in messaging application Telegram. A public chat featured users offering sexual services written in Chinese.

The group chats were reportedly based in Makati, Eastwood, Ortigas, Alabang and Pasay.

This discovery came amid an ongoing Senate hearing about sex trafficking on Telegram and WeChat groups in relation to other anomalies within the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) industry.