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Instagram's Toughest Months Could Lead to Huge Fines

28.11.2023 03:20 AM
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Instagram's Toughest Months Could Lead to Huge Fines
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Instagram's Toughest Months Could Lead to Huge Fines

It seems that Meta and its children have difficult weeks ahead of them, after prosecutors in 33 US states filed a legal complaint against it on charges of allowing children under the age of 13 to use the Instagram application and routinely collect their personal data without parental permission.

A new American report revealed the "disturbing way" in which children's sexual content is presented to adults through Instagram content, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In detail, the newspaper created new accounts that only follow teen gymnastics and cheerleading influencers.

She stated that these accounts were then recommended for adult sexual content and child sexual content, noting that the Canadian Center for Child Protection conducted a similar test with similar results.

The shocking result came, as the Instagram system provided contradictory doses of obscene content to those experimental accounts, including explicit clips of children, in addition to explicit sexual videos for adults, and advertisements for some of the largest American brands.

The magazine then created the experimental accounts after noticing that the thousands of followers of these young people’s accounts often included large numbers of adult men, and that many of the accounts that followed these children also showed interest in sexual content related to children and adults alike.

However, what raised the most concern was the display of sexually suggestive content among advertisements for major companies, as tests showed that following only young girls prompted Instagram to begin displaying videos from accounts promoting sexual content for adults alongside advertisements for major consumer brands.

In the face of this uproar, Meta responded, stressing that it does not want this type of content on its platforms, and that brands do not want their ads to appear next to it, according to Business Insider.

Meta said: “We do not want, and we continue to invest strongly, to stop it. We report every three months on the prevalence of such content, which is still very low.”

It also considered that the Wall Street Journal's test was an "artificial experience" that does not represent what real users see every day.

These developments come just days after a complaint filed by American prosecutors stating that in 2019, “Meta” received more than 1.1 million reports of the existence of accounts for users under the age of 13 on Instagram, but it disabled only a small portion of those accounts, and even routinely... Collecting children's personal data, such as their locations and email addresses, without parental permission, considering this a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, according to The Guardian.

The complaint stated that Meta failed to develop effective age verification systems and make this an ongoing priority, and instead enabled users under the age of 13 to lie about their age to create accounts on the popular photo platform.

Prosecutors also pointed out that the company's executives publicly stated in testimony before Congress that the company's age verification process was very effective, and that the company removed minors' accounts when it became aware of it, despite their knowledge of the existence of millions of underage users.

However, things did not calm down, as the complaint used excerpts from internal emails, employee conversations, and company presentations, to confirm these allegations, which, if proven true, could result in Meta being fined hundreds of millions of dollars.

On the other hand, the company responded in a statement that it had spent a decade working to make the experience of using its online platforms safe and appropriate for all teenagers.

It considered that this complaint mischaracterizes its work by using selective quotes and carefully selected documents.

It is noteworthy that the latest complaint, with the charges it contained, is part of a larger federal lawsuit filed last month by more than 40 American states before a court in California, against Meta, in which it accused its applications, “Facebook” and “Instagram,” of harming the mental and physical health of young people.

Prosecutors confirmed in the complaint filed in a California court that Meta exploited powerful and unprecedented techniques to attract young men and teenagers.

They stressed that the company carried out these actions to trap young people in order to achieve profits.

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