Facebook reports journalists to police after they alert it to child porn

BBC News Facebook laptop computer screen
David Jordan, BBC's director of editorial policy, said Facebook's behaviour was "extraordinary" (Getty)

Several BBC journalists were reported to police while investigating sexualised images of children being posted on Facebook - after the site asked for examples of images found before an interview.

BBC says it reported "dozens of photos" to Facebook but only 20 percent were removed, as the others were not deemed as being against "community guidelines".

But when it asked for an interview with director of Simon Milner, he agreed on the condition it sent him examples of material it reported, but wasn't removed by moderators.

Once BBC sent through the images, Facebook reported the journalists to the UK's Nation Crime Agency, the news agency says.

Facebook defended the action by saying it's against the law for people to distribute images of child exploitation.

"When the BBC sent us such images we followed our industry's standard practice and reported them to Ceop [Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre]," it said in a statement.

"We also reported the child exploitation images that had been shared on our own platform. This matter is now in the hands of the authorities."

David Jordan, BBC's director of editorial policy, said Facebook's behaviour was "extraordinary".

"The fact that Facebook sent images that had been sent to them, that appear on their site, for their response about how Facebook deals with inappropriate images... the fact that they sent those on to the police seemed to me to be extraordinary," he said.

The BBC investigation saw 100 images that appeared to break Facebook's guidelines reported, including under-16s in sexualised poses, a still which appeared to be from a video of child abuse requesting to share "child pornography", pages explicitly for men sexually interested in children and groups containing stolen images of real children with names such as "hot xxxx schoolgirls".

Eighty-two of the images were deemed not to breach the social media network's "community standards" - including the image which appeared to be from a video of child abuse.

Five convicted sex offenders were also located and reported to Facebook, as they are banned from the site. The BBC says none of them were taken down.

"One can only assume that the Facebook executives were unwilling or certainly reluctant to engage in an interview or a debate about why these images are available on the Facebook site," Mr Jordan says.

The images Facebook took to police were later removed from the site, despite its automatic systems originally clearing them as appropriate.

Newshub.