Facebook has a movie piracy problem, according to a new report from Business Insider. The report found that there are multiple groups on the social media site — some with tens of thousands of members — that share illegally obtained copies of films.
Most of the groups aren’t particularly subtle or well-hidden, either. These aren’t private clubs where membership is only given to a select, vetted group of friends. In fact, according to Business Insider’s report, most of them are public-facing groups with titles like “Full HD English Movie” and “Free full movies 2018.” (They can be found by simply searching Facebook for “free movies.”) Many of the groups are also years old, going back to as early as 2016 in some cases.
Facebook says that the burden is on rights holders to report the pirated content
It’s not that the groups are just linking to illegal content that’s hosted on other sites or offering links to download the movies on the groups (which would be problematic enough on its own). But it seems that many of the piracy groups are actively hosting the full uploaded movies on Facebook’s platform, including copies of popular films like The Greatest Showman, Transformers: The Last Knight, and even blurry, recorded copies of Ant-Man and The Wasp.
None of this is new to the internet. Movie piracy groups and forums have been around practically as long as the high-speed connections that are needed to download or stream them. But the bigger issue seems to be that Facebook can’t (or won’t) do anything about them. The company told Business Insider that unless the content rights holder reaches out, it’s not Facebook’s responsibility to take the content down.
It’s yet another case where Facebook’s moderation teams are passing the buck on an obvious issue on the platform. Facebook does have its Rights Manager tool, which helps copyright owners prevent stolen or ripped videos from being spread, but apparently there are some pretty big gaps in the tool’s ability to ferret out stolen content. The issue here is likely the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which essentially gives Facebook a reason to not seek out pirated content since it’s only liable if it knows about it and ignores it. It’s easier to put the burden of finding and reporting these videos onto the movie studios instead.
Movie piracy may seem like a relatively harmless thing compared to blatant hate speech and abuse, but it also highlights a major problem: if Facebook can’t figure out how to stop pirated content from showing up with a simple search of “free movies,” how can anyone trust it to get the bigger things right?