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FIRST ON FOX: In response to a request for a federal probe into Facebook over its policies regarding the potential use of the platform by human smugglers and sex traffickers, the Department of Justice declined to comment, citing longstanding department policy to neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations.
Fox News exclusively reviewed a Nov. 17 letter by DOJ in response to a request by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the department to look into the social media giant’s practices.
Brnovich wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Oct. 14 urging the department to investigate Facebook’s “facilitation” of illegal migration into the United States after the tech giant said that it allows users to share information related to human smuggling and entering a country illegally.
Mark Brnovich on Fox News (Fox News)
“Facebook’s policy of allowing posts promoting human smuggling and illegal entry into the United States to regularly reach its billions of users seriously undermines the rule of law,” Brnovich said in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “The company is a direct facilitator, and thus exacerbates, the catastrophe occurring at Arizona’s southern border.”
However, DOJ, in its response to the attorney general months later, declined to provide information on whether or not it is currently investigating Facebook, or if it plans to do so in the future.
“With respect to your specific concerns about Facebook, the Department takes allegations of criminal wrongdoing seriously,” the letter reads. “Although we appreciate having the benefit of your views, as you may know, longstanding policy and practice of the Department prevents us from discussing allegations further or confirming the existence or commencement of any investigation,” wrote Theo Stamos, intergovernmental affairs liaison at the department,
Stamos then outlined examples of how the department is “committed to the rule of law” and how the agency uses tools to fight human smuggling and trafficking.
Attorney General Merrick Garland steps away from the podium after speaking at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
“For example, earlier this year, the Attorney General announced the establishment of Joint Task Force Alpha, a law enforcement task force marshalling the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against he most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking organizations.”
Stamos also mentioned DOJ’s partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to launch the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative in 2009 to combat threats across the border and dismantle trafficking networks on both sides of the border.
A Meta Company spokesperson told Fox News on Saturday, “We prohibit content that offers or assists with human smuggling, invest in technology and people to proactively identify it, and remove it from our platform whenever we find it.”
In a letter sent to Brnovich’s office, in August, Facebook said that it does not allow criminal organizations to operate on its platform and prohibits content “that offers to provide or facilitate human smuggling, which includes advertising a human smuggling service. However, it added: “We do allow people to share information about how to enter a country illegally or request information about how to be smuggled.”
The tech giant said the policies were developed “to ensure we were prohibiting content relating to the business of human smuggling but not interfering with people’s ability to exercise their right to seek asylum, which is recognized in international law.”
DOJ did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.