Tuesday, June 25, 2024
HomeNews ReportsUS: New Mexico State sues Meta after probe finds Facebook promoting sexual content to...

US: New Mexico State sues Meta after probe finds Facebook promoting sexual content to minors, recommending handles of predators

The civil lawsuit read, “Meta has allowed Facebook and Instagram to become a marketplace for predators in search of children upon whom to prey.”

The Southwestern State of New Mexico in the United States has filed a civil lawsuit against Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms, and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday (5th December), reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

An investigation conducted by the office of New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez found that sexual content is being recommended to minors on both Facebook and Instagram. It also discovered that accounts of underage users are being promoted to child sexual predators.

The civil lawsuit read, “Meta has allowed Facebook and Instagram to become a marketplace for predators in search of children upon whom to prey.” The office of the New Mexico attorney general pointed out that Meta prioritised its advertising revenue and thus left minor users vulnerable to abuse.

It squarely blamed Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg for aggravating risks to children using Facebook and Instagram. As per the report by The Wall Street Journal, the New Mexico attorney general’s office set up Facebook and Instagram test accounts for 4 ‘fictional children’.

And it used ‘adult birth dates’ for some of the accounts to mimic the behaviour of some underage users. One of the accounts was named ‘Issa Bee’. An AI-generated photograph of a child was used as the Display Picture (DP). The birth year was registered as 2002.

The account was used to create posts about ‘losing her baby tooth’ and ‘experiencing the first day of 7th grade.’ The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office noticed that Meta began recommending sex content to the account.

It also received explicit messages and pictures of genitalia from other users at least 3-4 times per week on the messenger app. Potential sexual predators also sent invite requests to the account to join private chat groups and watch sexual content involving children and adults.

Similarly, other test accounts created by Raúl Torrez’s office saw Meta recommending a handle, posting adult pornography, despite the age of the user being marked as 13 years old.

The civil lawsuit pointed out that underage users who showed interest in sexual content on Facebook were approached on the platform by sexual predators. Interestingly, the test accounts were allowed to join dating groups on Facebook without the need for age verification.

The Office of the Attorney General found that those groups were often administered by adults. It highlighted how the ‘minor’ test accounts were inundated with follower requests from adults, who also solicited sex in exchanged for money.

This is contrary to the claims by Meta that it prevents ‘malicious’ adults from contacting children. One of the minor accounts that joined a ‘job seeking group’ was approached by a man requesting participation in child pornography for a specific price.

There were also attempts by sexual predators to convince the minor users to join prostitution. Despite flagging the sexually inappropriate content through Meta’s reporting systems, the tech giant reviewed the content and declared that it was ‘acceptable.’

In the lawsuit, the Office of the New Mexico attorney general pointed out criminal cases in the State where sexual predators used Meta Platforms to groom and recruit 100s of underage victims for human trafficking.

While speaking about the civil lawsuit, New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez told WSJ, “The features of the platform itself are not engineered in a way to prevent this matchmaking from likely predators and likely victims…“I incorrectly assumed, like a lot of parents, that a big, well-funded company like Meta would not have allowed itself to become an alternative venue for that activity.”

Response of Meta on the lawsuit

In a statement, Meta said, “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.”

Earlier in a Facebook post on 6th October, 2021, Mark Zuckerberg had vowed to protect kids using the platform.

“I’m particularly focused on the questions raised about our work with kids. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the kinds of experiences I want my kids and others to have online, and it’s very important to me that everything we build is safe and good for kids,” he had said then.

In June this year, Meta claimed to have created a child-safety task forced to crack down on pedophilic accounts on Instagram. According to an investigation conducted by WSJ, the number of users and groups trading child pornography has increased on Meta’s platforms.

In its defence, the social media giant has claimed to have removed 16000 Facebook groups in this regard. Earlier in October 2023, a total of 41 US States filed a lawsuit against Meta for misleading the public about the dangers of its platforms for the youth.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

Related Articles

Trending now

Recently Popular

- Advertisement -