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New Mexico attorney general sues meta over promotion of sexual content to minors

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Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms Inc. this week, arguing that Facebook and Instagram recommend sexual content to minors and promote children's accounts to adult predators.

Torrez filed the lawsuit with the First Judicial District Court. It came after a several month-long investigation by his office. The investigation found this after creating fake accounts of children ages 14 and younger.

The lawsuit says that Meta violates the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act. The law bars "unfair or deceptive trade practices and unconscionable trade practices."

Torrez wants Meta to pay civil damages for each violation of the act and for the cost of New Mexico's investigation. 

“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 office said. “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.” 

Specifically, the office found evidence that the platforms are guilty of the following, according to a release:

  • 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.

In response to the lawsuit, Meta said it takes concerns about child sex abuse seriously.

“We use sophisticated technology, hire child safety experts, report 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, to help root out predators," Meta told ABC News in a written statement. "In one month alone, we disabled more than half a million accounts for violating our child safety policies.”

The lawsuit also comes as 33 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Meta in late October that alleges both Facebook and Instagram include features to increase children's use of the platforms, resulting in increased depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.