Shocking Facebook Survey Asks: Is Pedophilia OK?

John Lister's picture

Facebook has made a survey in which it asked if adult users should be allowed to ask children for 'explicit' pictures. The survey question appears to be a horrific mistake, albeit one that's hard to explain.

The survey was seen by a journalist at the UK's Guardian newspaper, who posted screenshots of the questions.

One of the questions read "There are a wide range of topics and behaviors that appear on Facebook. In thinking about an ideal world where you could set Facebook's policies, how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures."

Users then had three main options to reply, namely "This content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it", "This content should be allowed on Facebook, but I don't want to see it" and "This content should not be allowed on Facebook, and no one should be able to see it."

'Who Should Set Rules?', Survey Asks

A follow-up question asked who should be setting the rules about such content, with options being "Facebook decides the rules on its own", "Facebook decides the rules with advice from external experts", "External experts decide the rules and tell Facebook" and "Facebook users decide the rules by voting and tell Facebook".

The options make no mention of the law governing such content, despite the fact that such messages are illegal in many of the places where Facebook has users. (Source:

Facebook Calls Question A Mistake

Contacted by the newspaper, Facebook said the survey was a mistake. It said such content was already against Facebook rules and these rules would not change, so the survey has been withdrawn. (Source:

It's notable that the explanation of the content appears in italics in the survey, strongly suggesting it was inserted into a template containing the same question wording for different types of content.

It also appears the inclusion was a mistake (rather than Facebook being genuinely inquisitive about the topic) as the wording refers to private messages, which by definition wouldn't be seen by other users.

What's Your Opinion?

Can you think of any reasonable explanation as to how the question got into the survey? Should Facebook check if anyone responded favorably to the questions? If so, should they block or ban such users even if they haven't yet breached any rules?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Whoever let this slip should be fired. This is a huge PR disaster! Even if it was a mistake, this type of wording should have never been allowed in a template for the sole reason of accidentally publishing it - which is exactly what happened! Unbelievable stupidity as its finest!

JeffRL's picture

This story is yet another reason I will not use Facebook for any purpose under any circumstances. Bad enough that doing so is a complete abdication of any pretense of privacy, but with the way it was used by the Russians to influence the election (still to be determined if there was collusion but the Russian attack on the U.S. is fact) and now this should be enough for it to be sued out of existence, but with the many billions at stake, of course nothing will happen. Eben if the DoJ managed to win a court case against them, Zuckerberg could find the cash needed to pay the fine by looking under his sofa cushions. Just another cost of doing business for a company with no conscience.

shulco1_6765's picture

This was an accident like Hillary paying for a fake dossier.

Aerokats's picture

Facebook may have served a useful purpose at one time, but not any more. Shut it down.