Meta Says It’s Stepping Up Fight Against Online Predators Amid Reports Of Child Exploitation | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


Meta said Friday it’s developing technology and strengthening its task force of specialists dedicated to online safety in an effort to step up its fight against online predators that use Facebook and Instagram, which it owns, to exploit children amid reports the platform has enabled pedophile accounts and pushed inappropriate content sexualizing children.

Key Facts

In a blog post, Meta said it takes “recent allegations about the effectiveness of our work very seriously,” and has created a task force to look over its existing policies.

The Wall Street Journal has recently published reports that Meta has enabled pedophile networks on Instagram, and that the platform’s video service pushes inappropriate content involving children to accounts primarily following young users.

Meta said its Child Safety Task Force expanded its existing list of child safety-related terms, phrases and emojis for its system to flag content, groups and pages that break its rules or are inappropriate.

The company is also using machine learning technology to find terms that are connected to existing violating terms and hashtags, and is connecting its systems across Facebook and Instagram to restrict violating content on both platforms.

“Potentially suspicious adults” on Instagram will be prevented from following and interacting with one another, Meta said, using its existing technology that it says reviews over 60 different signals to find these users, including if a teen blocks or reports an adult account, or if an adult account repeatedly searches suspicious terms.

On Facebook, Meta said it’s using its account reviewing technology to improve how it finds groups, pages and profiles connected to suspicious members or content, and has improved its reporting and enforcement systems to find and ban potentially predatory accounts, such as using technology to find child exploitative imagery, and prioritizing reports that contain similar content.

Key Background

The EU’s European Commission requested information from Meta on Friday under the Digital Services Act, asking the company to give details on how it is complying “with its obligations to assess risks and take effective mitigation measures” regarding protecting minors on Instagram. In November, Meta and Snapchat were given a Dec. 1 deadline to give the EU more information on how the platforms are protecting children from content that is illegal and harmful, TechCrunch reported. In June, the Wall Street Journal reported Instagram was enabling a large network of pedophilic accounts that were “openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage-sex content,” according to its investigation with researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The report said in addition to failing to remove the content from its platform, Instagram’s algorithm was promoting it, essentially connecting pedophiles and directing them to the content. In a follow-up report last week, the Journal reported that the algorithm for Instagram Reels, a video service, was pushing inappropriate videos of children, sexual adult videos and ads for dating sites to accounts that mostly follow pre-teens and teenagers on the app, according to its testing. In response to the Journal’s Instagram Reels test, Meta said the test produced a manufactured result that doesn’t reflect the typical experience of its billions of users.

What To Watch For

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 31 along with other tech executives, including X CEO Linda Yaccarino and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, about how their platforms have failed “to protect children online,” Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

Further Reading

Instagram Connects Vast Pedophile Network (Wall Street Journal)

Instagram’s Algorithm Delivers Toxic Video Mix to Adults Who Follow Children (Wall Street Journal)

Meta is Struggling to Boot Pedophiles Off Facebook and Instagram (Wall Street Journal)

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