Slaves for sale on Instagram, other apps - report

A slave market has been uncovered operating on popular social media apps, including Instagram and Facebook.

BBC News Arabic uncovered the horrific trade in domestic workers taking place in Kuwait, where many wealthy households have domestic workers from poorer parts of the world. 

Journalists reportedly found Kuwaitis treating their employees as property on apps like Facebook, Instagram and 4Sale. 

"African worker, clean and smiley," one listing read. "Nepalese who dares to ask for a day off," said another.

Owners told the journalists, posing undercover, that once purchased they should confiscate their new slave's passport and phone, and deny them any time off. 

"Even if you keep her up till 5am she won't complain," one seller said.

Slavers were advertising openly on social media apps, using hashtags like #maidsfortransfer and #maidsforsale. One person said they cost as little as NZ$3000 each. 

Instagram - and its owner Facebook - said once contacted by the BBC team, they deactivated accounts and banned certain hashtags. 

A lawyer representing one of the victims, only known as Fatou, said they'll be seeking compensation from the tech giants.

"I believe the app developers should definitely provide compensation for Fatou. As well as possibly Apple and Google," said Kimberley Motley.

"On Apple Store they proclaim that they are responsible for everything that's put on their store. And so our question is, what does that responsibility mean?"

Google said it was "deeply troubled" by the allegations and is "working to ensure that the app developers put in place the necessary safeguards to prevent individuals from conducting this activity on their online marketplaces".

Apple said it was doing what it could too, but it was up to developers to police activity on their own platforms.

"We work with developers to take immediate corrective actions whenever we find any issues and, in extreme cases, we will remove the app from the store."

None of the apps used have been removed from Apple or Google's app stores. BBC News Arabic said "hundreds" of slaves remain for sale, despite the crackdown.

Kuwaiti authorities said they are investigating.