Special to CosmicTribune.com, January 25, 2024
At least 100,000 children are targeted by pedophiles every day on Facebook and Instagram, according to a recently unredacted complaint filed by New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez.
Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint pointed out in an X/Twitter thread that “most redactions just now removed in the New Mexico attorney general’s complaint” against Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platforms show “it is even more shocking, infuriating and stomach turning” than what people may have realized.
In an internal conversation highlighted in the complaint, one Meta employee states that nothing is being done to counter child grooming on the company’s social media platforms, adding, “I’d argue we’re making it worse.”
“What specifically are we doing for child grooming,” an employee asks, to which a second employee replies, “Somewhere between zero and negligible. Child safety is an explicit non-goal this half. I’d argue we’re making it worse with Interop, but that’s a can of worms.”
Meta’s “People You May Know” (PYMK) feature allegedly contributed to 75 percent of all inappropriate adult-minor contact and “had a direct link to trafficking,” prompting employees to ask, “How on earth have we not just turned off PYMK between adults and children?” the complaint added.
The complaint says Meta is well aware that its Facebook and Instagram platforms are popular with children as young as age six and yet still fails to protect them from online predators:
“One of Meta’s ‘End Game’ goals was to ‘become the primary kid messaging app in the U.S. by 2022.’ The document confirmed that ‘in the U.S. — Messenger is popular… with Kids (13% primacy, U.S. 510).’ Meta’s knowledge that its platforms were used by and ‘popular with’ children as young as 6-years-old makes its failures to protect minors against CSAM and solicitation all the more egregious.”
The complaint also states:
“One internal document shows Meta scrambling in 2020 to address an Apple executive whose 12-year-old was solicited on the platform, noting, ‘this is the kind of thing that pisses Apple off to the extent of threatening to remove us from the App Store,’ asking whether there was a timeline for when ‘we’ll stop adults from messaging minors on IG Direct,’ and noting that if they did not address other accounts with ‘sugardaddy’ — ‘they will reply with 100 more accounts if we’re not able to take them down.’ ”
(The mostly unredacted complaint is available here.)
Update: Meta on Thursday enacted restrictions to prevent unknown adults from directly contacting underage users on Facebook and Instagram.
The new rules were revealed as Meta faces a series of explosive lawsuits — including a sweeping challenge from 33 states accusing the company of fueling a youth mental health crisis and the complaint by New Mexico alleging the company has exposed underage users to alleged sex predators.
A new default setting will block teenage Instagram users from receiving direct messages or being added to group chats from accounts they aren’t already connected to or follow, Meta said in a blog post.
The change applies to all U.S. users under age 16 — or age 18 in some other countries.
woah, most redactions just now removed in the New Mexico attorney general’s complaint vs instagram and facebook. it is even more shocking, infuriating and stomach turning to see what has now been lifted (in yellow).
“a 2021 presentation estimated 100,000 children per day…” /1 pic.twitter.com/k8vJGfeZvQ
— Jason Kint (@jason_kint) January 21, 2024