San Francisco: A recent court case concerning child abuse on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram apps claimed that an internal company estimate from 2021 indicated that up to 100,000 children were subjected to sexual harassment on the platforms on a daily basis, including images of adult genitalia.
This was disclosed in recently unsealed sections of a complaint filed by the attorney general of New Mexico in an ongoing legal battle against the social media giant regarding the company’s efforts to safeguard minors on the internet as the platforms gained enormous traction among youth, reports CNBC.
In the complaint, a description of a 2020 Meta internal company chat was also included, in which one employee asked a colleague: “What specifically are we doing for child grooming (something I just heard about that is happening a lot on TikTok)?”
“Somewhere between zero and negligible. Child safety is an explicit non-goal this half,” the colleague responded.
According to the newly unredacted filing, Meta executives hurriedly responded to a complaint made by an Apple executive, whose 12-year-old child had been solicited on Facebook that same year, the report mentioned.
As per a Meta spokesperson, the company has fixed many of the issues identified in the complaint.
In one month alone it disabled over a half million accounts for violating child safety policies, the company said.
“We want teens to have safe, age-appropriate experiences online, and we have over 30 tools to support them and their parents. We’ve spent a decade working on these issues and hiring people who have dedicated their careers to keeping young people safe and supported online,” the company was quoted as saying.
According to the lawsuit, Facebook and Instagram failed to protect underage users from predators online, and Meta employees urged the company to make safety changes but failed to do so.
The lawsuit filed on December 5, 2023, claimed that the company failed to make the recommended changes because it placed a higher priority on social media engagement and advertising growth than child safety.
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s founder and CEO, is named as a defendant, the report said.
Meanwhile, a US judge has ruled that Zuckerberg must participate in a deposition as part of an ongoing lawsuit in Texas concerning the company’s face recognition technology.
According to a ruling made by Justice Jeff Rambin, the state court has rejected Meta’s recent appeal “seeking relief from an order compelling the oral deposition” of Zuckerberg at an undisclosed date.