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Updated January 19th, 2024 at 23:21 IST

Unsealed Meta Documents Show 100,000 children ‘sexually harassed’ on Facebook, Insta

"Meta executives, including Zuckerberg, consistently made decisions that put growth ahead of children’s safety," New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez said.

Digital Desk
Meta
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. | Image:AP
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As many as 100,000 children on Meta’s social media platform, Facebook and Instagram, have experienced sexual harassment each day, according to the internal company documents released to the public as part of the unsealed legal filing on Thursday. The detail was based on the information that was unveiled in complaint to New Mexico’s attorney’s general office basis the presentations made by Meta employees and communications between the staff. Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is named as a defendant.

The  2021 Meta internal estimates show that scores of kids were sexually harassed online, and several instances, including circulation of “pictures of adult genitalia,” have come forward. The filing is part of a complaint by the attorney general of New Mexico who argued that Meta has taken inadequate steps to protect the children online. The unreacted documents stemming from the complaint reveal that the children were being groomed online.

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Meta put ‘growth ahead of children’s safety’

Meta failed to take steps to protect the children, says the complaint, adding that it has failed to provide safety to the underaged kids against the predators online. Zuckerberg’s parent company for Instagram and Facebook, Meta refused to make changes, as it placed high priority on the social media advertising and engagements, complaint said. “For years, Meta employees tried to sound the alarm about how decisions made by Meta executives subjected children to dangerous solicitations and sexual exploitation,” New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez said Thursday.

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“Meta executives, including Mr. Zuckerberg, consistently made decisions that put growth ahead of children’s safety. While the company continues to downplay the illegal and harmful activity children are exposed to on its platforms, Meta’s internal data and presentations show the problem is severe and pervasive,” said Torrez.

A description of a 2020 Meta internal company chat states that an employee asked a colleague: “What specifically are we doing for child grooming (something I just heard about that is happening a lot on TikTok)?” “Somewhere between zero and negligible,” the colleague responded. “Child safety is an explicit non-goal this half.” The redacted filing shows that Meta scrambled to handle a complaint that was brought by an executive at Apple, alleging that his 12-year-old child was solicited on Meta’s platform Facebook. 

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“This is the kind of thing that piss*s Apple off to the extent of threatening to remove us from the App store,” a spokesperson for Meta said. He then asked, “when will stop adults from messaging minors on (Instagram) Direct.” 

A Meta spokesperson, as per the filing, said that the company has identified many problems and rectified them as per the complaint. It claims that more than half million accounts that violate the child safety policies have been disabled. “We want teens to have safe, age-appropriate experiences online, and we have over 30 tools to support them and their parents. We’ve spent a decade working on these issues and hiring people who have dedicated their careers to keeping young people safe and supported online. The complaint mischaracterizes our work using selective quotes and cherry-picked documents,” the company said.

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Published January 19th, 2024 at 23:21 IST

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