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Facebook Whistleblower Alleges Company Chooses to Profit from The Trafficking of Endangered Species

Washington, D.C. April 10, 2018.  The whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto announced today that it filed the anonymous whistleblower complaint against Facebook with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Office of the Whistleblower alleging that Facebook is knowingly profiting from the trafficking of endangered species. 

 

The complaint, filed with the SEC in August of 2017, explains how Facebook failed to implement the necessary and required internal controls to curtail criminal activity occurring on Facebook’s social media pages.  The complaint explains how Facebook is engaged in the business of selling advertisements on the web pages it knows or should have known were being used by traffickers to market endangered species animal parts. 

 

“Extinctions are forever so it is an urgent necessity to stop the trafficking on Facebook of critically endangered species immediately and forever,” said Stephen M. Kohn

 

“Part of the SEC’s responsibility is to ensure that Facebook investors aren’t unwittingly involved with the criminal trafficking of endangered species.”  Kohn added.

 

Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto released the following statement on behalf of the anonymous whistleblower:

 

“When we began this investigation, we put our undercover team into multiple social media and online platforms, including eBay, Facebook, Instagram and Yahoo. We found rampant wildlife activity in two places: Facebook and Instagram.”

 

“The amount of wildlife being traded on closed and secret groups on Facebook is horrifying. We saw multiple products: rhino horn, bear claws, tiger skins, reptiles, and tons and tons of ivory. At a time when the world is losing 30,000 elephants a year to poachers, the amount of ivory sold on Facebook is particularly shocking.”

 

“Through months of undercover work, we were able to identify more than one dozen distinct networks operating on Facebook. We traveled to Vietnam and Laos to meet with a number of ivory traders in person, confirming that they were actively selling ivory and other endangered wildlife products.”

 

“Several of these traders bragged of moving thousands of kilograms of ivory per month as a result of the business they built up on Facebook, which allows them an anonymous platform to display their goods, connect with buyers around the globe, and arrange sales.”

 

“As a result of having logged thousands of posts for illegal ivory on Facebook, the company enables illegal wildlife sellers to connect to and market to customers in a space that is anonymous, global, and free of regulation.”

 

“Facebook is doing nothing about this, and neither is law enforcement. It’s a disgrace.”

 

“The amount of electronic data Facebook holds about ivory buyers and sellers could put authorities in the position to stage the biggest wildlife law enforcement operation ever, if either side could be bothered to do anything.”

 

“We urge authorities to enforce the law and make Facebook regulate its platform better. People are not the only victims of Facebook’s negligence. Endangered animals are too.”

Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, has exclusively represented whistleblowers since 1988, and obtained the largest whistleblower reward ever paid to an individual -- $104 million – to Bradley Birkenfeld for ending the Swiss banking giant UBS’s illegal offshore accounting practice. 

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The Whistleblower Blog is an editorially independent news and information source, sponsored by a pro bono public service project by Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP. The blog highlights important news, legal developments and policy issues critical to whistleblowers and their advocates, both in the United States and internationally. The contributors to this blog are respected leaders in their fields, including the authors of key whistleblower law books, current and former legal professors, spokespersons before Congressional committees and other public bodies, directors of non-profit whistleblower advocacy groups, and prominent attorneys specializing in representing/assisting whistleblowers in the United States and throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.