Is Meta doing enough to fight sex trafficking and exploitation
Few Meta shareholders have filed a lawsuit against CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives for not doing enough to stop sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation on Facebook and Instagram. This is not the first time someone has accused Meta of turning a blind eye toward sexual exploitation on its platforms. That brings us to the question, is Meta really doing enough?
Why does this story matter?
- Facebook's and Instagram's rise to popularity has coincided with the rise in accusations about the platforms being unsafe, especially for women and underage users.
- Even Zuckerberg has admitted that child exploitation is one of the serious threats the company deals with. Meta has introduced several measures to address these concerns over the years, but their effectiveness is still up for debate.
Facebook, Instagram are largest sources of child sexual abuse material
Meta's track record when it comes to child sexual exploitation isn't glorious. Meta's platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, are the world's largest sources of child sexual abuse material. Several underage trafficking victims are recruited through Facebook or Instagram. In April 2022, the #BeBraveZuck campaign was launched to hold Meta and its CEO accountable for their roles in facilitating online child sexual abuse.
Facebook can be held liable for conduct of sexual predators
In 2021, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Meta can be held liable for the conduct of those who use Facebook to recruit and prey upon children for sex crimes. The lawsuit was filed by three women who were recruited by sex traffickers when they were teenagers. The victims accused Facebook of negligence and product liability for failing to warn about sex trafficking.
Meta has tightened privacy settings for teenagers
Meta has been taking steps to address sexual exploitation on its platforms. Underage users are the most vulnerable on Facebook and Instagram. Over the past year, Meta has tightened the privacy settings for teenagers. The updates are in line with the company's 'Best Interest of the Child' framework. The new settings are in place on both Facebook and Instagram.
The company is funding a tool to prevent sextortion
Meta's new steps are primarily aimed at keeping teenagers safe from suspicious adults. Neither can teens message suspicious adults they aren't connected to, nor will they appear in their recommended list. On top of that, Meta is funding a 'Take It Down' tool to help teenagers report and remove their sexually explicit images online. This is to prevent the 'sextortion' of teens.
Meta has rejected the basis of the present suit
The present suit was made public by pension and investment funds that are shareholders in Meta. The complaint says Meta's board has consciously decided to promote sex/human trafficking by not addressing the problem. Meta has voiced its displeasure against the suit. The lawsuit is a shareholder derivative suit, where shareholders sue officers and directors for alleged breach of duty.