A major legal offensive against Zuckerberg

In a major legal offensive aimed at combating online risks to minors, New Mexico Democrat Attorney General Raúl Torrez took decisive action against tech giant Meta Platforms, Inc., its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and associated entities, including Instagram, LLC and Facebook Holdings, LLC.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, represents a bold effort to curb the exploitation of children on social media platforms.

“Our investigation into Meta’s social media platforms demonstrates that they are not safe spaces for children but rather prime locations for predators to trade child pornography and solicit minors for sex,” Attorney General Torrez said in a statement.

“As a career prosecutor who specialized in internet crimes against children, I am committed to using every available tool to put an end to these horrific practices and I will hold companies — and their executives — accountable whenever they put profits ahead of children’s safety,” he added.

During the past several months, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office launched an undercover operation posing as minors under 14 on Meta’s platforms. This sting operation led to disturbing findings, where it was discovered that:

Proactively served and directed the underage users a stream of egregious, sexually explicit images — even when the child has expressed no interest in this content

Enabled dozens of adults to find, contact, and press children into providing sexually explicit pictures of themselves or participate in pornographic videos.

Recommended that the children join unmoderated Facebook groups devoted to facilitating commercial sex.

Allowed Facebook and Instagram users to find, share, and sell an enormous volume of child pornography.

Allowed a fictitious mother to offer her 13-year-old daughter for sale to sex traffickers and to create a professional page to allow her daughter to share revenue from advertising.

AG Torrez expressed grave concerns about the knowledge and inaction of Meta executives like Mark Zuckerberg, emphasizing that they are fully aware of the potential dangers their platforms present to young users.

“Mr Zuckerberg and other Meta executives are aware of the serious harm their products can pose to young users, and yet they have failed to make sufficient changes to their platforms that would prevent the sexual exploitation of children,” Torrez added.

“Despite repeated assurances to Congress and the public that they can be trusted to police themselves, it is clear that Meta’s executives continue to prioritize engagement and ad revenue over the safety of the most vulnerable members of our society,” he added.

Investigators were startled to find that Facebook and Instagram were ridden with child exploitive content at rates surpassing even that on adult platforms. The complaint, which has to exclude an array of graphic content due to its disturbing nature, begins with a stark black box warning concerning the sexually explicit materials that it does include as evidence.

This is not the first time that Facebook has come under fire for being a haven for sexual predators.

Earlier this year, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a formal call for Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the State’s Human Trafficking Council. This follows a revealing report that highlights Meta platforms – Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger – as the most frequently used by human traffickers.