A civil lawsuit has been filed against Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, alleging that the platforms promote minors' accounts to potential child predators and recommend sexual content to underage users. The lawsuit, filed by New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez, claims that Meta has allowed its social media platforms to become "marketplaces for predators" and failed to implement proper protections for users under the age of 13. Investigators at the AG's office found that "certain child exploitative content" is over ten times more prevalent on Facebook and Instagram than on Pornhub and OnlyFans. The investigation involved setting up test accounts on the platforms, which directed underage users to sexually explicit content and enabled adults to contact and exploit children.
The lawsuit also alleges that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was responsible for the decisions that affected children and parents using the platforms. Torrez stated that Meta's executives are aware of the harm their products can cause to young users but prioritize engagement and ad revenue over safety. The Wall Street Journal conducted its own investigation into Instagram's algorithm and found that the platform serves videos to adults who may have a prurient interest in children. The investigation set up test accounts that attracted a large number of adult men followers, many of whom had shown interest in sexual content related to both children and adults.
Meta has responded to the allegations, stating that they do not want this kind of content on their platforms and have invested heavily in safety measures. They claim to use sophisticated technology, hire child safety experts, and report content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In one month alone, over half a million accounts were disabled for violating their child safety policies.
The lawsuit highlights the ongoing concerns about the safety of social media platforms, particularly for underage users. It raises questions about the responsibility of companies like Meta to protect vulnerable users and prevent the exploitation of children. The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications for the regulation and oversight of social media platforms in relation to child safety.