In 2020 there were over 21.4 million reported cases of online child sexual abuse material (CSAM),
94% of which stemmed from Facebook. This represents an increase of 28% from Facebook’s nearly 17 million reports in 2019. Facebook’s plan to apply end-to-end encryption to all its platforms without first stopping CSAM could effectively make invisible 70% of CSAM cases that are currently being detected and reported.
Facebook’s rush to expand end-to-end encryption across its platforms, without addressing the issue of child sexual exploitation, has led to an immense backlash and poses legitimate risk to children worldwide. Governments, law enforcement agencies and child protection organizations have harshly criticized Facebook’s planned encryption, claiming that it will cloak the actions of child predators and make children more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Pending legislation in Congress and other countries could make Facebook legally liable for CSAM. The company is facing increasing regulatory, reputational and legal risk due to this issue.
Facebook executives have admitted that encryption will decrease its ability to report CSAM, saying, “if it’s content we cannot see then it’s content we cannot report.” Yet Facebook is intent on applying encryption as soon as possible and feels that this is a valid tradeoff for the risk of increased child sexual abuse. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated, “Encryption is a powerful tool for privacy, but that includes the privacy of people doing bad things. When billions of people use a service to connect, some of them are going to misuse it for truly terrible things like child exploitation, terrorism, and extortion.”
As the world’s largest social media company and the largest source of reported child sexual exploitation online, Facebook’s actions will, for better or worse, have a major impact on global child safety.
Our shareholder resolutions have asked the company to assess the risk of increased sexual exploitation of children as it develops and offers additional privacy tools such as end-to-end encryption.
Proponents of this resolution are not opposed to encryption and recognize the need for improved online privacy and security. There are a number of technological developments that should allow anti-CSAM practices to coexist with encryption. These need to be tested and applied before Facebook goes forward with its encryption plans. Support for this resolution is not a vote against privacy, but is a message to management that it needs to take extra precautions to protect the world’s most vulnerable population – children.
Shareholder resolutions & statements
Our 2021 shareholder resolution received 17.25% of the vote. This represents 56% of the non-Zuckerberg controlled vote (up from 43% in 2020). The resolution garnered the support of nearly 980 million shares worth about $321 billion in stock value (based on the closing stock price of the day of the annual meeting).
Read the 2021 Facebook shareholder resolution asking the company to report on “the risk of increased sexual exploitation of children as the Company develops and offers additional privacy tools such as end-to-end encryption.” Our 2020 Facebook shareholder resolution was filed after shareholders became aware of an exponential surge in online child sex imagery. The volume of online child sexual abuse material continues to grow dramatically.
Sarah Cooper, a survivor of sex trafficking who was contacted by a predator through Facebook Messenger, gave a heartfelt speech at the 2021 Facebook annual shareholder meeting in which she described the link between Facebook and her own horrific ordeal. Read or listen to Sarah's statement. Proxy Impact CEO, Michael Passoff spoke at the 2020 Facebook annual shareholder meeting. Read Michael's statement on the business and social risk from Facebook's encryption plan.
Proxy memo / Exempt solicitation
Shareholders can file detailed information with the SEC to solicit support for their shareholder resolution. This document is officially called an "exempt solicitation," but is often referred to as a proxy memo.
Read the 2021 Facebook exempt solicitation and 2020 Facebook exempt solicitation which provide details on the link between social media and child sexual abuse, Facebook’s central role, the impact of end-to-end encryption on CSAM, the false choice between privacy or child protection, the financial risk to Facebook, law enforcement and child protection agencies' call for a delay to encryption, Facebook’s response, and a rebuttal to Facebook’s proxy statement.
Read our Facebook press releases:
Read our articles on Facebook and child sexual exploitation: