Written by Jong Ching Yee

What has happened?

One moment, you might be scrolling through your social media feed to see what’s going on in your friends’ lives. In the next, you could be seeing someone trying to sell his organs on social media. You might be thinking, is this for real?

Absolutely yes. This is the new trend in the Philippines where the poor sell their organs to raise money on social media. Organ trafficking in Asia is extremely common. Just last month, the United Nations (UN) was urged by a lawyer to investigate organ trafficking in China. While there are some who sell their organs to raise funds, there are a handful whose organs have been harvested and sold without their consent.

For organ traffickers, using social media to look for donors or sell their organs is the way to go. Behind the screens of their mobile phones, they can remain anonymous to avoid the long arm of the law. In the Philippines, organ trafficking is a serious offence and one could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison.


The Vulnerability of Social Media platforms

In response to organ trafficking posts, a spokesperson from Facebook said, “We remove this content whenever we become aware of it, and we encourage our community to report content that they think might break these rules”. According to Facebook usage rules, individuals are prohibited from the sale or purchase of regulated goods, which include human organs.

Many of such posts exist on Facebook but once notified, the social media platform will do its best to remove the post. Although one can remain anonymous on the Internet, individuals inevitably leave behind their digital footprints and these leads are sufficient for the authorities to launch an investigation into the case. Facebook is not the only social media platform at risk of facilitating such transactions. According to the report, Instagram is also another popular platform for dealers to solicit for illegal activities.

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