New Mexico Lawsuit Accuses Meta Platforms Of Enabling Child Sexual Abuse Material, Human Trafficking

New Mexico officials accused Facebook and Instagram of creating a breeding ground for predators who target children for human trafficking — while enabling the distribution of child pornography — according to a lawsuit filed against Meta Platforms and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

According to the 288-page civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in a New Mexico state court, the social media giant allegedly exposed young users to sexual content, opened the door for adult strangers to contact them, and subjected children to the risk of abuse or exploitation.

“Meta’s business model of profit over child safety and business practices of misrepresenting the amount of dangerous material and conduct to which its platforms expose children violates New Mexico law,” the complaint says. “Meta should be held accountable for the harms it has inflicted on New Mexico’s children.”

Attorney General Raúl Torrez said his office conducted an “undercover investigation” into the social media platforms that found Facebook and Instagram have certain child exploitative content more than ten times the amount shared on Pornhub and OnlyFans.

“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,” Torrez said in a news release.

Torrez, who specializes in prosecuting internet crimes against children, further accused Zuckerberg and Meta executives of failing to implement changes to prevent the sexual exploitation of children on their products while being aware of the severe harm it can cause to users struggling with addiction or other mental health issues.

“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,” Torrez said.

Meta responded to the allegations, stating that the platforms do take precautionary measures to “help root out predators.”

“Child exploitation is a horrific crime and online predators are determined criminals,” Meta told CNBC in a statement, adding the social media company uses “sophisticated technology, hires child safety experts, reports content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and share information and tools with other companies and law enforcement, including state attorneys general.”

Meta reportedly said the company disabled more than half a million accounts for violating policies in connection to child sexual exploitation.

New Mexico officials seek civil penalties, $5,000 for each alleged violation of New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act, and an order urging the company from “engaging in unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive practices.”


State officials reportedly also want Meta to apply effective age verification tools to the platforms, improve systems that detect and remove child sexual abuse material, and address the issues that allegedly amplify the material.

The latest filing against the social media giant comes after the attorney generals of 33 U.S. states filed a lawsuit against Meta and its Instagram social media platform in October, accusing the multinational technology conglomerate of contributing to the mental health crisis in American youth by making them addicted to its products and violated federal children’s online privacy and state consumer protection laws.

Eight other states and Washington, D.C., filed similar lawsuits.

Meta said in a statement to outlets that it shares “the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families.”

“We’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path,” the company added.

If the states succeed, Meta could be forced to pay massive fines and change how it advertises and designs its platforms to the public.

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