Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) and whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn has been featured in a WIRED article about Facebook’s wildlife trafficking market. The story details how Kohn and his team at NWC are using a novel methodology, whistleblower law, to hold Facebook accountable for the wildlife black market facilitated on its website.
The digital age has brought on cause for new legal precedents. Tech companies have largely not been held responsible for the content posted and disseminated on their platforms, allowing massive online black market of wildlife products to proliferate. Kohn and his team are pursuing impact litigation— establishing new applications of existing laws—to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.
The fight for accountability began last year, when Kohn filed a complaint with the SEC on behalf of an anonymous whistleblower(s). It alleges, as summarized by the WIRED article, that “by facilitating illegal acts via its platform, profiting from it in the form of ads, and failing to disclose the risk of this type of abuse to its shareholders, Facebook is violating Securities and Exchange Commission regulations governing publicly traded companies.”
The complaint also includes evidence collected by the informant, such as screenshots of images and conversations of online traffickers involving items such as ivory and other animal body parts. Kohn states that Facebook should disclose these activities to its investors.
Kohn hopes that growing distrust in social media giants like Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony before Congress, which included questions about the illegal wildlife trade on his platform, will assist in busting wildlife traffickers online and change how tech companies, like Facebook, are held accountable for their content.
Read the WIRED article: The Fight to Upend Facebook’s Black Market of Animal Parts
Read more about Facebook’s wildlife trafficking problem
Support the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018 (H.R. 5697)