Lazy eyes listen
According to a lawsuit filed by the state of New Mexico’s attorney general against Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, the platforms display sexual content to minors and operate as a “marketplace for predators in search of children.”
The suit, filed on Tuesday, claims that underage users of both platforms are shown advertisements linking to adult pornography sites and directed to accounts posting “images of sexual intercourse and sexualized images of minors,” even when the child has expressed no interest in this content.
“The office’s investigators discovered that certain child exploitative content is more than ten times more prevalent on Facebook and Instagram than on Pornhub and OnlyFans,” said Attorney General Raul Torrez in a statement.
Investigators from Torrez’s office created a number of fictitious profiles to test Meta’s enforcement policies. The team opened a pair of accounts posing as a 13-year-old girl and her mother, who they implied was “interested in trafficking her daughter.” Both accounts hit Facebook’s 5,000-friend limit within days, and the mother’s account was bombarded with “inappropriate expressions of love or interest” in her daughter, none of which were flagged by Facebook.
Investigators named the daughter ‘Issa’ after she was added to a chat group where members shared “pornographic videos and naked photos of underage girls,” which remained active despite many alerts to Facebook’s censors.
“Issa’s messages and chats are filled with pictures and videos of genitalia, including exposed penises, which she receives at least 3-4 times per week,” the lawsuit claims, adding that despite being reported, none of the males responsible for the communications have been banned by Facebook.
An anonymous account advertising underage girls “selling” sex then shared the daughter’s and another fictitious teen girl’s profiles, while another Instagram account purportedly belonging to a 13-year-old girl was followed by accounts whose profiles suggested they sold child pornography.
While the lawsuit included some redacted images of the content seen by investigators, it stated that other images had to be omitted as they were “too graphic and disturbing.”
The suit demands $5,000 from Meta for each claimed infringement of New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act and accuses the company of violating public nuisance laws by putting “thousands” of New Mexico children’s health and safety at danger.
“Child exploitation is a horrific crime, and online predators are determined criminals,” Meta said to the claim. “We use sophisticated technology, hire child safety experts, report content to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, and share information and tools with other companies and law enforcement…to help root out predators.”
The complaint was filed less than a week after Meta declared that it was enhancing its child safety safeguards in response to a series of Wall Street Journal publications.