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Facebook surveys its users about 'child grooming.' Here's what that means

A determined hacker might be able to select and focus on a few key strategic places where the outcome could have a big impact on a swing state, but then he or she would face the task of compromising precinct judges, people who know how to reprogram comput
FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Facebook is announcing its second major tweak to its algorithm this month, saying it will prioritize news based on users’ votes. The company said in a blog post and Facebook post from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, that it will survey users about how familiar they are with a news source and if they trust it. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Matt Rourke, AP

Facebook recently asked a select number of users if they wanted to see child grooming permitted on the social network, which drew instant criticism for the social network.

Child grooming is a crime that occurs when an older person establishes a relationship with a minor with the objective of committing sexual abuse or harassment. In the online environment, predators will commit child grooming to obtain sexually explicit photos of young people.

Selected Facebook users received surveys where it asked parents to decide whether or not Facebook should consider rules against child grooming, even though the action is a crime, according to The Times in London.

The Guardian’s Jonathan Hayes tweeted out photos of the survey, which shows two distinct questions from the survey.

One question asks: "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.”

The possible answers include: "This content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it" and "this content should not be allowed on Facebook, and no one should be able to see it."

In a separate question, Facebook asked: "When thinking about the rules for deciding whether a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures should or should not be allowed on Facebook, ideally who do you think should be deciding the rules?"

The choices for those taking the survey included: "Facebook decides the rules on its own," "External experts decide the rules and tell Facebook" and "Facebook users decide the rules by voting and tell Facebook."

Critics expressed worry that the survey suggests that Facebook allows child grooming, according to The Daily Beast.

"The multiple-choice answers for the hypothetical scenario included allowing or stopping the content but did not include contacting the police," The Times reported.

A Facebook spokesman told Business Insider that child grooming has never been allowed on Facebook, nor will it be in the future.

"We sometimes ask for feedback from people about our community standards and the types of content they would find most concerning on Facebook," the spokesman said. "We understand this survey refers to offensive content that is already prohibited on Facebook and that we have no intention of allowing so have stopped the survey."

Guy Rosen, the vice president of product at Facebook, told The Guardian that the surveys were “a mistake.”

He said Facebook will often send out surveys to better understand the wider social network community.

“We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies,” he said. “But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on FB. We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn’t have been part of this survey. That was a mistake.”