Meta platforms are marketplaces for child predators claims lawsuit | Global development #Meta #platforms #marketplaces #child #predators #claims #lawsuit #Global #development

Meta has allowed its social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, to become marketplaces for child predators, the state of New Mexico alleges in a lawsuit filed against the company and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

The lawsuit claims that Meta “proactively served and directed [children] to egregious, sexually explicit images through recommended users and posts – even where the child has expressed no interest in this content”. It claims Meta “enabled adults to find, message and groom minors, soliciting them to sell pictures or participate in pornographic videos”. The company is also accused of fostering unmoderated user groups devoted to facilitating and selling child sexual exploitation content.

“The office’s investigators found that certain child exploitative content is over 10 times more prevalent on Facebook and Instagram than it is on Pornhub and OnlyFans,” a statement from the New Mexico attorney general, Raúl Torrez, stated.

“Meta’s conduct is not only unacceptable; it is unlawful,” the lawsuit says.

Torrez also alleged that Meta allows and fails to detect the trafficking of children. “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 sufficient changes to their platforms that would prevent the sexual exploitation of children,” he said. “It is clear that Meta’s executives continue to prioritise engagement and ad revenue over the safety of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

In response to the lawsuit, Meta said: “Child exploitation is a horrific crime and online predators are determined criminals. We use sophisticated technology, hire child safety experts, report content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and share information and tools with other companies and law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to help root out predators. In one month alone, we disabled more than half a million accounts for violating our child safety policies.”

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain labour or a commercial sex act from a person.

The lawsuit follows a two-year Guardian investigation, published in April, which revealed Meta’s struggles to prevent criminals from using its platforms to buy and sell children for sex and is referenced several times in the legal filing by Torrez. The Guardian interviewed several former Meta moderators who disclosed details about the company’s potential failings to detect and report child sexual abuse content and child sex trafficking taking place on its platforms.

“As reported by the Guardian, these moderators expressed concerns that Meta failed to act on even the plainest indications of trafficking or child sex exploitation, let alone those in which traffickers made an effort to mask their conversations with code words or emojis,” says the lawsuit.

The legal filing includes several examples of child sexual abuse material the investigators located on Facebook, Instagram and Threads, Meta’s new platform designed to be a rival to X. However, many more images had to be omitted from the report because they were deemed “too graphic and disturbing”, according to the attorney general’s statement.

#Meta #platforms #marketplaces #child #predators #claims #lawsuit #Global #development

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