Facebook let a family sell their 16-year-old girl as a child bride, and only noticed 2 weeks later

A family in South Sudan used Facebook to auction off their 16-year-old daughter as a child bride and managed to complete the transaction before anybody could stop it.

The family in Eastern Lakes, a central region of South Sudan, put up a post selling off the girl on October 25, Reuters reported. She was married off on November 3, according to Plan International, a British girls’ rights charity.

Facebook told Business Insider that it found the post on November 9 — more than two weeks after it was first posted — and permanently removed it.

Read more: Mark Zuckerberg insists he’s still the best person to run Facebook, despite the endless scandals

The post featured a picture of the unnamed girl and noted that five men were participating in an auction for her. Some were high-ranking government officials, Plan International reported.

The winning bidder gave the girl’s father 500 cows, three cars, and $10,000 in exchange for his daughter, Plan International said.

Neither the girl, nor her family, nor her husband’s identities are publicly known.

Taban Abel, the information minister in Eastern Lakes, said the girl has gone into hiding in Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

South Sudan’s legal marriage age is 18, but more than 50% of girls in the country are wedded off before their 18th birthday, according to UNICEF.

Read more: The UN reports warring factions in South Sudan abducted hundreds of women and forced them into sexual slavery

George Otim, the South Sudan country director at Plan International, said in a statement: “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets. That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.”

A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement: “Any form of human trafficking — whether posts, pages, ads or groups is not allowed on Facebook. We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook.”

“We’re always improving the methods we use to identify content that breaks our policies, including doubling our safety and security team to more than 30,000 and investing in technology,” they added.

Facebook’s Community Standards forbid users to post content or engage in human trafficking, which includes “recruiting, transporting, transferring, detaining, providing, harboring, or receiving a minor, or an adult against their will.”

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