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Meta is under fire after reports of exploitative content surface, Zuckerberg faces lawsuits

Mark Zuckerberg in front of an old Facebook logo

Meta is being accused of ignoring reports of incidents of parents exploiting their children on social media platforms Instagram and Facebook. The reports suggest that the parents running these accounts benefited from the subscription tools the algorithm awarded them.

The Verge shared two separate reports by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal calling the parent company Meta out for not taking action against the sexual exploitation of the children for financial gain.

The New York Times reported the case of a mother named Elissa who managed the account for her young daughter since 2020. She reported getting creepy messages from Instagram accounts and criticism from users arguing that she is “exploiting” her daughter.

The New York Times investigation revealed that such accounts, especially, of young girls attract a large following from male users. For example, out of the 5000 accounts Times reviewed, 32 million connections were to male followers.

In addition, parents played an active role in creating content that attracted such an audience. In some cases, the parents even indulged in sharing pictures of their children in inappropriate clothing having exclusive chat sessions with online child predators.

By doing so, these parent-managed minor accounts attract numbers making the algorithm boost their reach and provide them with features such as subscription tools. The Times report explained that popular "child-influencer" profiles can provide account owners with a six-figure income just through monthly subscriptions.

The Wall Street Journal mentioned that while these profiles do not post sexually explicit or illegal content, they still tend to appeal to pedophiles. The WSJ’s report added that Meta was allegedly aware of parents posting such content and that their algorithms provided these accounts with subscription tools. This meant that pedophiles could subscribe to them and get more content updates.

While Meta has not yet replied to The Verge’s request for comments, Bloomberg reported that the company CEO Mark Zuckerberg is being targeted by plaintiffs for ignoring the risks Instagram and Facebook pose toward children.

On the other hand, Zuckerberg’s legal team argued that the CEO can not be charged for not taking personal responsibility for what the company is doing.

There are about a dozen new lawsuits against Meta on matters of child safety on the company-owned platforms. These cases are being handled by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers and are among the many complaints against Meta and other social media giants that have continuously surfaced on the internet.

Source: The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal Via The Verge

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