Facebook, Instagram control child predators, it claims

Meta accused of developing social media platforms to trap children

Meta accused of developing social media platforms to trap children


Facebook and Instagram direct children to explicit content, even when no interest is expressed, and allow child predators to find and contact minors, New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez argued Wednesday in announces a lawsuit against parent company Meta Platforms and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Children are pressured by predators to provide pictures of themselves or to participate in pornographic videos, civilians claim suit filed Tuesday in New Mexico State Court. Torrez argued that instead of providing “safe spaces for children,” the platforms allow predators to trade child pornography and solicit children for sex.

Meta has not implemented protections because of the potential hit to its ad revenue, according to Torrez, whose office filed the suit following an undercover investigation in which it created fake accounts of fictitious teenagers and preteens using photographs generated by artificial intelligence. Meta’s algorithms recommended sexual content to these accounts, which were also subject to a flood of explicit messages and suggestions from adults on the platforms.

“Meta has allowed Facebook and Instagram to become a marketplace for predators looking for children to prey on,” the lawsuit claims.

One account had investigators posting photos of a fictitious 13-year-old girl in Albuquerque, New Mexico, drawing thousands of adult followers. On Facebook Messenger, the account’s chats received graphic images and videos three to four times a week, according to the complaint.

Meta sued by states claiming Instagram, Facebook cause harm to children and teens


“Mr. Zuckerberg and other Meta executives are aware of the serious harm their products can pose to young users, and yet they have failed to make adequate changes to their platforms that would prevent child sexual exploitation,” Torrez said in a declaration.

He added, “Despite repeated assurances to Congress and the public that they can be trusted to police themselves, it is clear that Meta’s leaders continue to prioritize engagement and ad revenue over the safety of the most vulnerable members of our community .”

The state’s case cited several recent criminal cases in New Mexico, including a perpetrator accused of recruiting more than 100 minor victims through Facebook.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But earlier this month Meta posted one blog post about its anti-predator work, telling CBS News that it has hired specialists focused on online child safety and is developing new technology to “eradicate predators.”

“Child exploitation is a horrific crime, and online predators are outright criminals,” Meta said on Dec. 1. “They’re using multiple apps and websites, testing each platform’s defenses and adapting quickly. We’re working hard to stay ahead of the curve.”

The New Mexico suit comes in the wake of a suit filed in October by 41 other states and the District of Columbia, alleging that Meta knowingly developed Instagram and Facebook to be addictive for children and teenagers.

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