Facebook has come under heavy criticism after the platform was used to auction off a child bride in South Sudan, CNN reports.
The auction, which remained online for more than two weeks, saw as many as five men make offers on a 16-year-old girl.
According to Plan International, a children’s rights organization, several of the male participants were reported to be high-ranking members of the South Sudanese government.
The winning bidder, who offered the girl’s father 500 cows, 3 cars, and $10,000, was married to the child on Nov. 3.
George Otim, Country Director of Plan International South Sudan, decried the incident as a “barbaric use of technology” largely “reminiscent of latter-day slave markets.”
“That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief,” Otim said.
In a statement to CNN, Facebook confirmed that the auction, which began on Oct. 25, had been active on the site for 15 days before finally being removed.
“Any form of human trafficking—whether posts, pages, ads or groups is not allowed on Facebook,” a company spokesperson said. “We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook.”
Otim has also called on the South Sudanese government to investigate the incident and to “suspend any officials who took part in the bidding.”
“Child marriage is a serious violation of human rights and a form of violence against girls,” Otim said. “It can have profound consequences on a child’s survival, health, education, development and well-being and is often carried out against their will and best interests.”
Facebook added that it is “doubling” its safety and security team to more than 30,000 people in an attempt to crack down on those who violate the site’s rules.