Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is facing a lawsuit filed by New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez over allegations that the platforms promoted underage accounts to child predators. The state attorney general’s office conducted an undercover investigation, which revealed that Meta’s platforms had become a marketplace for predators seeking vulnerable children.
The lawsuit, filed in New Mexico state court, claims that Meta’s algorithms exposed underage users to explicit and sexually suggestive content, even if the child displayed no interest. It further accuses the company of enabling adults to find and coerce minors into sharing sexually explicit images or participating in pornographic videos. Meta is also alleged to have recommended unmoderated Facebook groups related to commercial sex and facilitated the sharing and sale of child pornography.
Attorney General Torrez emphasized that Meta’s social media platforms are not safe spaces for children but instead, environments where predators can exploit and trade child pornography. He vowed to hold executives and companies accountable when they prioritize profits over the safety of children.
During the investigation, one case study involved the creation of a fake profile for a fictional 13-year-old using the pseudonym “Issa Bee.” Within days, the profile gained thousands of followers and received comments showing interest in the underage child. Prosecutors revealed that the Issa Bee account was added to a chat group featuring explicit videos and photos of underage girls. Despite multiple reports, the account remained active, and Facebook allegedly advised the fictional mother to leave the group.
Torrez accused Mark Zuckerberg and other Meta executives of being aware of the harm their platforms cause to minors but failing to take appropriate action to prevent future sexual exploitation.
In response to the lawsuit, Meta acknowledged that child exploitation is a horrific crime and outlined the steps it takes to identify and combat predators on its platforms. The company claims to use sophisticated technology and employ child safety experts. It also collaborates with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, reports content, and shares information with law enforcement agencies. In the third quarter of this year alone, Facebook and Instagram sent over 7.6 million reports of child sexual exploitation to the National Center.
This lawsuit follows several others filed against Meta by different states, accusing the company of designing features that harm the mental health of young users. It underscores the growing concerns surrounding the safety and well-being of minors on social media platforms.