Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has confirmed to TechCrunch that Jeren A. Miles, who had been a manager of global community development, is no longer employed by the company after a video went viral on YouTube, which was then reposted on Reddit and other sites, featuring him in a sting operation conducted by amateurs with the intent of catching paedophiles.
The two-hour video, posted by an amateur group called PCI Predator Catchers Indianapolis on its YouTube page, does not depict Miles caught in any sex act, nor admitting to any specific sex act, nor admitting to intending to carry out any sex act. And it is not clear what the legal ramifications of this will be, if any.
But it does feature two people questioning Miles, who in the course of the interrogation admits to having graphic and inappropriate communications with a 13-year-old boy. It’s a damning enough exchange that Miles has subsequently deleted his social profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and — whether he was fired or resigned voluntarily — Miles has left his role at Facebook over the matter.
”The seriousness of these allegations cannot be overstated. The individual is no longer employed with the company. We are actively investigating this situation and cannot provide further comment at this time,” said a statement from a Meta spokesperson provided to us by Drew Pusateri. I’ll point out that Pusateri also tried to talk me out of the newsworthiness of this story over the phone before sending over the statement, noting that other outlets were not covering it (thanks for the advice).
Meta feels like it’s been hit by wave upon wave of controversy for years, ranging from stories related to data protection and privacy, troubled product executions and falling engagement numbers. Even underage sex scandals are not new news at this point.
You could argue that this is all part and parcel of being as big and exposed as Meta is — billions of people around the globe are habitual users of its portfolio of products, which include Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Workplace and Oculus — although none of it adds up to anything good.
Coincidentally, the company has been trying to refresh its PR offense, starting with naming former U.K. politician Nick Clegg as their president of global affairs. They will have their work cut out for them.