Pangolins are being traded on Facebook despite the social media platform prohibiting the sale of live animals or products derived from endangered species, an investigation by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) revealed.
A number of Facebook pages openly sell live pangolins and pangolin scales, which are typically used in traditional Chinese medicine, according to the Campaign for Accountability (CfA).
“The ant-eating pangolin, which is found in parts of Asia and Africa, is considered the most trafficked mammal in the world,” the report reads. “But the sale of pangolins on Facebook has become even more troublesome given their potential role in the coronavirus pandemic. The animal has emerged as a possible intermediate host in the transmission of COVID-19 to humans.”
Despite Facebook joining the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online — which aims to reduce the illegal sale of wild animals by 80 percent across tech platforms by 2020 — CfA found the social media company is not effectively policing its own policy.
“Poachers and their dealers should not be able to openly sell illegally trafficked pangolins on Facebook and its platforms,” said CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens. “Facebook claims that it prohibits the sale of endangered or threatened animals on its platforms, but pangolins are easily available for anyone who searches for the animal. This is yet another example of Facebook failing to enforce its own rules across its platform.”
Pangolins are not the only endangered species being sold on Facebook’s platform, according to the report. The social media giant has also been accused by animal welfare campaigners of serving adverts on pages offering threatened species’ body parts, including rhino horns, elephant ivory and tiger teeth. Corporations need to be held accountable for their actions.