New Mexico Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Meta Alleging Failure to Protect Underage Users


Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is facing a lawsuit from New Mexico’s attorney general, Raul Torrez, who alleges that the social media giant failed to shield underage users from exposure to child sexual abuse material. The lawsuit, following an undercover online investigation, contends that Facebook and Instagram allowed adults to solicit pornographic imagery from underage users.

Torrez stated in a prepared statement on Wednesday, “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.”

The civil suit, filed late Tuesday in state court, not only targets Meta Platforms Inc but also names its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, as a defendant. The legal action asserts that Meta’s platform design is addictive and harms the mental health, self-worth, and physical safety of children and teenagers.

The claims made in this lawsuit align with a previous legal action in late October, where attorneys general from 33 states, including California and New York, accused Meta of deliberately designing features on Instagram and Facebook to engage and hook children, contributing to a youth mental health crisis and resulting in issues such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

As part of the investigation, New Mexico prosecutors created decoy accounts of children aged 14 and younger. Even when these fictitious accounts expressed no interest, they reportedly received sexually explicit images. The lawsuit contends that Meta allowed dozens of adults to find, contact, and encourage children to provide sexually explicit and pornographic images. Additionally, the accounts received recommendations to join unmoderated Facebook groups focused on facilitating commercial sex.

Attorney General Torrez accused Meta’s executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, of being aware of the serious harm their products could pose to young users but failing to implement sufficient changes to prioritize the safety of vulnerable members of society over engagement and ad revenue.

Meta responded to the allegations without directly addressing the lawsuit, emphasizing their commitment to protecting young users. The company stated that it employs sophisticated technology, hires child safety experts, reports content to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, and collaborates with law enforcement to combat online predators.

Company spokesman Andy Stone highlighted Meta’s efforts, citing a report detailing millions of tips sent to the National Centre in the third quarter of 2023, including 48,000 involving inappropriate interactions that could include adults soliciting child sexual abuse material directly from minors or attempting to meet them in person.

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